What help is out there?

Talking therapies, bodywork, and medication.

Talking therapies can include counselling, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), or Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing (EMDR). Talking therapy is now always considered as a first option.

CBT-SP was developed using a risk reduction, and relapse prevention approach and is theoretically grounded in principles of cognitive behaviour therapy, dialectical behavioural therapy, and targeted therapies for suicidal, depressed youth.

Although not prescribed by most trusts, bodywork can be very supportive, especially when there is emotional trauma too. Alongside this, some people report having great success with homoeopathy.

Overwhelmingly, however, those who are at risk of suicide report being depressed. Therefore, you may be offered antidepressants. These can be used in conjunction with all of the above. While antidepressants can help you to function more effortlessly when diagnosed with depression, they can’t address the causes of your depression. Ideally, they will allow you to engage with talking therapies and do the personal work that may be needed to work through the depression.

If antidepressants help you function, why don’t we prescribe them first and then add in talking therapies? It’s because all medications have side effects ranging from mild to quite severe reactions. If we can support people without the need for medication and exposure to side effects, that is the ideal. Sadly, some people will take antidepressants and because they are functioning again, they do not then do the work to fix what’s wrong. They mistake their ability to function with being better. Talking therapies should offer a judgement-free zone, where a trained counsellor or therapist will listen to you and help you find your own answers to problems. Your therapist will give you time to talk, cry, shout, or just think. It’s an opportunity to look at your problems in a different way with someone who will respect you, your opinions, and your experiences.

Helplines

Many national and local helplines provide the opportunity to talk about how you’re feeling, share your problems and find out how you can access more support.

  • PAPYRUS HOPELineUK is manned by suicide prevention advisers who are mental health professionals trained in suicide prevention intervention skills.
  • Samaritans helpline is answered by trained volunteers who will listen to you and help you talk through your concerns, worries and troubles.
  • CALM offers confidential anonymous, and free support, information and signposting for anyone anywhere in the UK through their helpline.
  • The SANEline is a national out-of-hours mental health helpline offering specialist emotional support, guidance and information to anyone affected by mental illness, including family, friends and carers.
  • Shout is the UK’s first free 24/7 text service for anyone in crisis anytime, anywhere. It’s a place to go if you’re struggling to cope and you need immediate help. Shout is powered by a team of volunteers, who are at the heart of the service. They take people from crisis to calm every single day.
  • 7 Cups – Free online and confidential chat with therapists and trained listeners.

Please be aware that all the helplines listed can get very busy, and you might ring at a time when there are no call handlers available.

Please don’t give up. You could try the Hub of Hope, a UK online service directory as they may list other organisations that will be able to support you.

Community Mental Health Support

Community Mental Health Teams (CMHTs) support people living in the community who have complex or serious mental health problems and are made up of different mental health professionals. If you feel you are in crisis, you may be referred to a Crisis Team. A crisis team can help in different ways. They will carry out an assessment to establish if they can help you. In the assessment, they might ask questions about how you’re feeling, what has happened, and your mental health history. Having carried out the assessment, they may support you through the crisis and then discharge you, or they may refer you onto the community mental health team.

Crisis Houses

A crisis house might be a good option for you if your home environment isn’t a safe place for you to be overnight or if things at home are part of your crisis but it’s not suitable for you to be admitted to the hospital. Crisis houses usually offer overnight accommodation and intensive treatment. Each crisis house will vary slightly, and you might find some services described as a ‘sanctuary’ or ‘safe-haven’. MIND has put together a list of crisis houses.

Please note that just like crisis lines, the Crisis House you call may be full. Hopefully, they will be able to suggest who else can support, but if not, try one of the numbers/directories listed above.

Peer support

This can take many shapes, such as support groups, online groups, and mentoring schemes. Peer support is provided by those who have shared experiences. These might be quite general or maybe more niche, but always include shared experiences or ways of being – age, gender, experience of a mental illness or a learning or hidden disability etc. Peer support groups are a safe place to explore common experiences and offer one another support. It may be social, emotional or practical support, but importantly this support is mutually offered and reciprocal, allowing peers to benefit from the support whether they are giving or receiving it.

Medications

Antidepressants may be used to support those diagnosed with depression. They can be used for other conditions and experiences too, such as bereavement, anxiety disorders, headaches, and even skin complaints.

Because all medications have side effects, talking therapies are always preferred as the primary intervention, especially in young people who appear to be at higher risk of side effects than those aged 30 or above (although anyone can experience side effects). While antidepressants can help alleviate and treat the symptoms of depression, they cannot address the causes. Therefore, they’re ideally used in combination with therapy.

Some people will feel no benefit at all for some weeks, others may feel slightly worse initially and some will feel significantly worse.

This creates something of a problem. There’s an inherent conflict when prescribing antidepressants. On the one hand, we know that untreated depression can lead to suicide, however, we also know that some medications can initially make a patient feel worse and for some patients that can include deepening depression, worsening anxiety, and suicidal thinking.

If after starting your meds you experience deteriorating mental health, and most importantly if you experience thoughts of suicide, please be aware that these could be because of your medication, not despite it. It’s vitally important you speak to your prescriber or GP about your experiences as soon as possible as they may suggest trying a different dose or medicine.

If they have not written a Prescription Safe Plan with you, you can download one and complete it for yourself.
A Prescription Safe Plan provides an extra layer of protection for those taking antidepressants. If you would like to know more about Prescription Safe Plans, please visit our Prescription Safe Plan Awareness page.

If you are a Healthcare worker, Education well-being or Occupational Health professional and you would like to know more about Prescription Safe Plans, please visit our Safer Prescribing page.

Self-help and online resources

Professional support is wonderful, but self-help can be really useful too, not least because it’s nearly always accessible, usually cheap, and can be a positive act of self-love and self-reliance. There are many great resources out there to get you started.