Mental Health In An Unequal World: 7 Ways to Access Free Support

Today, Sunday 10th October 2021, is World Mental Health Day. Following on from 2020 – a year that highlighted so many social inequalities, the World Mental Health Organisation has decided to make the theme of this year’s World Mental Health Day ‘Mental Health in an Unequal World’.


If you find yourself experiencing mental health difficulties, please do not suffer in silence. Your GP is always a good first port of call. While in the UK, we are lucky enough to have mental health treatment available to us on the NHS, this does not mean that it is always readily accessible. Getting a GP appointment isn’t always as easy as it should be, and accessing mental health support can involve extensive assessments and waiting lists – time that feels like forever when you’re really struggling. More and more people are responding by resorting to private treatment, but this is expensive and just not possible for everyone.


Girl in blue top holding dog and searching the internet
Help is out there when you know where to look.

In light of this, read on to learn about just some of the resources that are available, for free, for everyone.


People in Your Life

Do not be afraid to tell the people in your life that you are struggling, and ask them for support. They may not be a trained therapist, and they may not be able to help make your difficulties go away – however, they may be able to make the load a little lighter. If your mental health is making it harder for you to leave the house, ask a friend if they would mind coaxing you out for a coffee. If your mental health is making it difficult to eat healthily, maybe a family member would be happy to come and help you cook one evening. If your work performance is being affected, letting your manager know can help take the pressure off. Many workplaces will even have dedicated support staff for employees experiencing mental health problems.

Two people holding hands with two cups of black coffee
A coffee and a chat can go a long way.

IAPT

If you go to the GP presenting symptoms of depression and anxiety, they will often refer you to IAPT. However, many people do not realise that they can refer themselves and forego the doctor’s appointment. IAPT stands for Improving Access to Psychological Therapies, and provides treatments such as counseling, cognitive behavioural therapy, and guided self-help. If you refer yourself to IAPT, you will undergo an assessment to check whether they feel that you’re a good fit for the service. If you are, most people start treatment within six weeks. If you’re not, they will be able to signpost you to a more suitable service.

Click here to find your local IAPT service.


Infographic depicting IAPT data from 2019-2020
From the NHS Annual Report on the use of IAPT services England 2019-20

Third Sector Organisations

There are many organisations out there that offer free support for people experiencing mental health difficulties. This can take many forms, including one-to-one support, such as counselling or mentoring; or community support, like workshops and activities.


Three Little Birds

Here at Three Little Birds, we offer one-to-one talking support and mentoring for young people and adults. Drop us a message here to find out more!


Mind

Mind is a wonderful mental health charity with local branches across the UK offering support. Find your local branch here and check out the support that they have available.


Screenshot from Nottinghamshire Mind's website explaining #Well services
Nottinghamshire Mind's #Well community services are a great example of free support available.

Hub of Hope

Hub of Hope is a great resource for finding free support in your area. You can search using your postcode/city and a wide variety of specific concerns to pinpoint a service that suits you. Search results will initially show private sector services as well, but by using the 'refine my results' function, you can easily filter these out. Click here to find services near you on the Hub of Hope.



Support Groups

When you are having a hard time, sometimes it helps to be around people who just get it. Peer support groups are places of understanding and acceptance. They can help combat the feelings of isolation that come with mental health difficulties, as well as introduce you to like-minded people, and allow you to share coping skills.


Rethink Mental Illness

Rethink Mental Illness has an excellent directory of over 140 peer support groups nationwide. Search for one near you by clicking here and entering your postcode.


Meetup

Although it is not a tool exclusively for support groups, Meetup is a brilliant resource for people looking to find peer support. Simply search using ‘support group’ (or specify by what you are seeking support for, e.g. ‘bereavement support group’) and your location, and you will be surprised by how many results come back. Meetup can be particularly helpful for finding online support groups and workshops. Find support on Meetup by clicking here.


Hub of Hope

Hub of Hope can also help with finding peer support groups- just use the ‘refine my results’ function and select ‘peer support group’. Search Hub of Hope for peer support groups by clicking here.


Hub of Hope homepage showing search bar for mental health support
Hub of Hope can help you find support groups and services, wherever you are in the UK.


Helplines

When you are struggling, helplines can be a real lifesaver. Maybe you just want to talk, but you don’t want to burden anyone, or you don’t want to worry your family or friends, or to be viewed any differently. Speaking to a trained listener can help you feel less alone, get things off your chest, and allow you to get out of a negative thought spiral.


Samaritans

You can call the Samaritans helpline on 116 123 at any time, on any day of the year, and there will be someone there to listen to whatever is upsetting you. If you don’t want to talk on the phone and you don’t mind waiting for a response, you can also email jo@samaritans.org and receive a reply within 24 hours.


National Suicide Hotline

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, the National Suicide Hotline is also available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year on 0800 689 5652.


Campaign Against Living Miserably

CALM have a helpline, open 5pm-midnight every day on 0800 585858, as well as a webchat service for those who prefer not to speak on the phone, but still get a quick response.


A young girl sitting at a table with her mobile phone in hand. She looks sad or anxious.
Help is always just a phone call away.

For a more extensive list of UK mental health helplines, click here.



Web Forums

If phone calls aren’t for you, but you still need to get your thoughts and feelings off your chest, you mi