Everyone goes through rough patches in life. Sometimes they’re little blips amidst generally good times. But every so often, you’ll find yourself so weighed down by an emotional or mental load to the point where you can’t see any light at the end of the tunnel.
I’ve absolutely been there. Twice after particularly bad break-ups that shattered me. Once during a period in which I had panic disorder that was yet to be diagnosed, so I thought I was dying. And several others that didn’t seem to be tied to any particular moment or experience – I just felt like absolute ratshit and wasn’t sure how I could NOT feel that way in the future.
Rock bottom can feel overwhelming, and even if you have a great support network of friends or family, there can be times when you just can’t fathom reaching out to someone you know. Luckily, we have some amazing foundations and organisations in Australia who offer services for people having a real shit time. But when you’re deeply under that cloud of depression, anxiety, grief or just completely overwhelmed – who can you actually call or chat to?
Because it’s World Mental Health Day, we’ve rounded up of some of the Aussie help lines and services you can reach out to when you’re struggling.
FYI – if you’ve got a mate who you think might need support, there’s also this guide for starting up that convo, if you need a bit of help.
Everyone knows of Lifeline – I contacted them after my first major breakup when I felt completely out of control, and the help was amazing, so don’t think your crisis isn’t worthy of calling the national help line. But did you know they also offer an online chat service every night, 7 nights a week? If chatting in person is daunting to you, it’s a great option.
Another thing you may not know – Kid’s Help Line isn’t just for kids in school. They also offer crisis help as well as tools for 18-25 year olds, and like Lifeline have a WebChat counselling tool you can use between 8am and 12am. It’s particularly good if you want to chat discreetly to someone without everyone around you knowing what’s going on.
eHeadspace is this foundation’s offering to young people struggling with life stuff. In their group chat sessions, you can anonymously ask experts anything you like and get top notch guidance back. It’s also excellent for learning from other people, too. There’s also a whole section for help when you feel like someone in your life is struggling and you’re not sure how to support them.
Sometimes just knowing what you’re dealing with can help a shitload. For me personally, discovering I had Generalised Anxiety Disorder and Panic Disorder meant I saw my thoughts through the lens of a mental health issue. Black Dog Institute has self-test online programs for sussing if you’re dealing with depression, bipolar or anxiety. They also have a few apps that can help people dealing with these, like Snapshot, which allows you to track and monitor your depression or anxiety, so you can see patterns and also access help quickly if you need it.
Like many of these services, Beyond Blue have a hotline you can call where you can anonymously speak to a trained mental health professional, as well as an evening online chat module and an email service. They also have a fantastic forum section where you can share your stories and struggles with others who may be experiencing something similar. They also have great resources for when you want to find a professional to see IRL, and information about treatment options for different issues.
Australia’s first ever nationally-oriented counselling and referral service for LGBTQI+ folks, QLife offer a help line you can call, plus an online chat and also offer the opportunity to email them with a response within 24 hours – excellent if you’re a write-things-on-paper type of person. They also have a range of excellent resources, and are gathering together Australia’s best database of supporters of LGBTQI+ people, so when you need IRL help, you can find someone who supports the LGBTQI+ cause.
If you’re contemplating suicide, or experiencing suicidal thoughts – this service will have you in touch with a professional counsellor immediately. They operate 24/7 and you can call, use video chat, or chat online. They also offer articles covering issues relating to suicide, including the grief you may go through if someone close to you dies by suicide.
This service is geared specifically to men with family and relationship concerns, and offers a hotline and online chat module. They also have a range of articles that deal with issues within these topics, including “toolkits” for specific issues like anger management and communication, which involve worksheets designed to assist with overcoming adversities.
The Butterfly Foundation was created to offer support for people suffering from eating disorders and body image issues, as well as people who are close to them. They offer a hotline you can call, as well as a chat module and an email service. Beyond this immediate help, they also run support groups in major Australian cities as well as workshops (both online and in person) for ongoing support.
This long-time support site for young people focuses on everything from everyday dramas like budgeting and friendship crises to the heavy stuff. It’s a great place to go if you’re struggling and want to connect with other people who might understand what you’re going through – their forums are extensive and have been running for years. They also have some great resources for stuff like bullying, relationships, and identity.
A national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service, 1800RESPECT has a crisis hotline and online module with trained counsellors on hand to assist. They also explain what will happen when you call, if you’re feeling nervous or concerned. Because assault and domestic/family violence can often be dangerous for the individual experiencing it, their tools – like their section on safety planning – are invaluable.
This organisation aims to challenge the stigmas around youth mental health, and have several programs designed to raise awareness of mental illness and equip those suffering with useful tools for management. They’re practical and also offer programs for adults living with or interacting with teens who are experiencing mental health issues.
This support service is specifically for gambling issues, which can be incredibly debilitating and leave those suffering feeling hopeless with a hesitation to reach out. They have a hotline as well as a chat module and forums. Their site also offers a space for you to assess your gambling, SMS support you can set up, and guides for how you can self-help.
If you are contemplating suicide or having suicidal thoughts, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14, or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467. If you are in immediate danger, call 000.