Showing the various ways to get help and clearly explaining this often scary process is part of a parent's job. We can start by talking positively about asking for help, and getting away from misconceptions about it.
Don't Wait Until You're at the End of your Rope
A lot of people have the reflex of waiting until they've used up all their options, or until they're extremely unhappy, to ask for help. However, it can be useful to nip it in the bud (when there are warning signs of depression or anxiety, for example). On top of helping us better understand the signs of our unhappiness, it can also give us useful tools to quickly deal with a problem, which may help prevent bigger issues that could get worse with time. You don't have to wait until you're in an exceptionally bad situation or in constant misery to look for resources that could help you. Any call for help is important.
A Sign of Strength and Maturity
Some people see asking for help as a sign of weakness. And yet, it requires knowing yourself, being brave, and having enough maturity to think that you need a helping hand, which is really a sign of strength. Being human means having relationships. We need to be supported and helped. The idea that a person can fix all their problems on their own is totally unrealistic!
The Advantages of Asking for Help
Even though we're in the best spot to know what's good for us, it can often be useful to have trusted people give us their impressions of our situation. These people can sometimes be strangers or just unbiased (such as a Tel-jeunes worker). What's important is to feel comfortable around them. Being neck deep in a situation and getting totally involved in an issue can prevent us from seeing answers to our problems. Getting help doesn't necessarily mean we're looking for someone to tell us what to do, but it allows other people to help us guide our thoughts, to see things more clearly, and especially to listen to us and take us seriously, which might be the first step to getting better.
We can seek help for all kinds of problems, including small worries, doubts, anguish, or emergencies.
- When we ask teens in schools why someone should call Tel-jeunes or ask for help, lots of them say that it's for when we're feeling suicidal. This is absolutely true, because that kind of pain needs emergency help. However, we can also get help for any small, moderate, or other huge problems!
- The unhappiness we feel isn't directly related to the size of our issue. That's why it's important to not judge or reduce the importance people give to their problems. As parents, we're not always going to understand why our teens feel the way they do (inexplicably strong emotions). It's possible for a teenager to feel that they need help even if, as adults, the situation seems simple enough, or at least less serious than they make it out to be.
So it's completely logical to look for information, support, or someone to listen to us for any kind of problem, whether it's an ordinary question, an embarrassing issue, or intense depression.