Asking for help: Who to ask first?

We recently received a question about who to go to for help about mental health when your child is feeling like he or she may want to speak to someone. More specifically, the question asks,

Who to go to for help first?


Asking for help is one of the most important acts we can teach our children. Seeking help for a mental health difficulty (or any difficulty) is a really important first step towards feeling better and staying well. Mental health conditions are real, common and treatable. However, it does not always seem like that, especially because of the stigma attached to mental health conditions. Therefore, while many people live with symptoms and mental health conditions, often it can be hard to know how to start looking for help, or who and where to turn to.

Who to turn to can depend on many factors, but in general, there are often many people in our children’s lives who can offer help. These people include:

  • Teachers
  • School counselors, or university counseling services
  • Parents
  • Other adult family members, like an aunt or uncle
  • Faith leaders
  • Coaches
  • People from local mental health groups
  • Primary care physicians

These people can either directly provide needed support and help, or they can make referrals to outside resources or someone else who can offer help that’s more tailored to the situation. It’s important to learn to keep asking for help, even if the first person cannot offer the best assistance. Help is out there, and everyone deserves to get it!

As mentioned above, a primary care physician (also known as a “PCP”) is a good person to talk to about mental health. Some reasons to talk to your PCP include:

  • Provides easier access to care (quicker appointments, more convenient)
  • Has familiarity with medical history
  • Reduces or eases the stigma surrounding mental health symptoms and conditions
  • Offers easy access to many resources (such as a psychologist or social worker in their office, or screening tools)
  • Can help organize and arrange care
  • Is able to monitor progress

Watch the following video about how to talk to a PCP about mental health.

To find out more about seeking help for a mental health problem, visit Mental Health America or read our previously published blog post about finding the right healthcare professional.

How have you gone about teaching your child that it’s okay to ask for help? It can help others and ourselves, too, when we share our own experiences, so please comment below!

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