Alright Pal? Mental health and suicide prevention

Our #AlrightPal? campaign is all about starting the conversation around mental health and wellbeing. It's a first step towards suicide prevention.

Talking about mental health doesn't have to be scary. It's simply our emotional, psychological and social wellbeing. It's vital to understand and manage it as it affects how we think, feel and act.

It’s a myth that talking about suicide is a bad idea as it will give somebody the idea to do it. In reality, people at crisis point often feel as though they don’t want to burden people with their problems. As a result, they don’t discuss it. Asking somebody a simple question to check they’re alright offers support from friends and family. It also gives a chance for early referrals for specialist help.

If you’re worried about someone who might be having mental health issues or suicidal thoughts, there’s lots you can do to help. Read our tips below for how to start a conversation. You can also find lots of advice and details about partner services that can help.

How to help

Simply asking somebody if they’re alright gives them the chance to open up. Here's how you can help with the Samaritan's SHUSH active listening tips.

Show you care

Focus on the other person and make eye contact. Put away your phone.

To really listen to somebody you need to give them your full attention. Maintain eye contact and be engaged. Getting into this habit takes practice. Don’t be too hard on yourself and keep using these handy tips:

  • When starting the conversation make sure not to talk about yourself at all.
  • Keep a listening diary - just for a week. Record how many times you listened really well, note what challenges and distracts you and what you think went well.
  • Aim to learn at least one new thing about the person who's talking to you.

Have patience

It may take time and several attempts before a person is ready to open up.

Effective listening is about creating trust with the other person. The person sharing shouldn’t feel rushed, or they won’t feel it’s a safe environment.

If they've paused in their response, wait. They may not have finished speaking. It might take them some time to formulate what they're saying or they may find it difficult to say what they're feeling.

Through not judging and listening, you're allowing the person to relax into the conversation. They can use it as a place to reflect or work through difficult emotions.

Use open questions

Use open questions that need more than a yes or no answer. Follow up with questions like 'tell me more'.

An open-ended question means not jumping in with your own ideas about how the other person may be feeling. These questions don't impose a view point. They require a person to pause, think and reflect. Hopefully then they'll expand.

Avoid asking questions or saying something that closes down the conversation. Open-ended questions encourage them to talk. The conversation is a safe space that you are holding for them and nothing they say is right or wrong. Try asking them how they're feeling today.

Say it back

Check you’ve understood, but don’t interrupt or offer a solution.

Repeating something back to somebody is a really good way to reassure them that they have your attention. You can check to see that you’re hearing what they want you to hear. Don't put your own views into the conversation.

Have courage

Don’t be put off by a negative response. Most importantly, don’t feel you have to fill a silence.

Sometimes it can feel like you're intruding if you ask someone how they feel. You’ll soon be able to tell if someone doesn’t want to engage with you at that level.

You'll be surprised at how willing people are to listen. Sometimes, it's exactly what somebody needs to be able to share what's going on their mind.

Where to get help

If someone is still feeling low after your conversation and if they may be struggling to cope, they should get some support. This could be through talking to someone like a counsellor or getting specific advice for their situation.

Useful questions you might ask them include:

  • Have you talked to anyone else about this?
  • Would you like to get some help?
  • Would you like me to come with you?

Or for someone who is reluctant to get help:

  • Do you have someone you trust you can go to?
  • If it helps, you can talk to me any time.

Conversations about mental health

Listen to Dominic and Lucy's story on YouTube.

Mental health support in Barnsley

If someone's in immediate danger call 999 and ask for an ambulance.

You can also encourage the person to visit and talk to their GP for mental health support. See Mind's advice about what might happen when you talk to your doctor.

Key contacts

  • Papyrus is a leading youth suicide prevention charity.  They provide HOPELINKUK which is a free suicide prevention advice contact.  Open 9am until midnight. Call them free on 0800 068 4141 or text 07860 039967.

Local support services in Barnsley

  • IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) help people get quick and easy access to the best type of therapy. This is to help them understand and learn to manage their symptoms. It also helps with anxiety, stress, low mood and depression.

  • Mind is a national charity for people with mental health problems with a branch in Barnsley. The service offers support groups and paid counselling to help to get back into work. 

    Barnsley Mind have also launched a Thriving Communities project to support people feeling lonely or isolated. This is in the Central, Kingstone, Dodworth, Stairfoot and Worsbrough area. To get help call (01226) 211188. You can also email

  • Exchange Recovery and Wellbeing College, Gawber Road, Barnsley. It offers a variety of informal courses that are run in small groups and are open to anyone.

  • HumanKind - Umbrella. Provide mental health and wellbeing support, counselling and the chance to share and support others in group work programmes. You can also get support from people that have been in a similar situation to you.
  • Creative Minds run projects to develop people's mental, physical and psychological wellbeing.

  • Andy’s Man Club run free sessions where men over 18 can come together and offer each other peer-to-peer support. Visit the Andy's Man Club Barnsley Facebook page for more details.

  • Team Talk is a mental health programme run by Reds in the Community. It supports men’s mental wellbeing through peer support, sharing experiences, tips and coping mechanisms.

  • Samaritans have a full list of organisations that provide emotional support and help for certain situations. This is from mental health issues to addiction and domestic abuse.

  • Barnsley Samaritans and Mind offer confidential support and advice about emotional wellbeing and mental health.

  • Reds in the Community and Creative Minds run free multi-sport activity sessions for women and girls aged 16+. These are held every Monday at Barnsley Football Club. Contact for more details.
  • The Barnsley Support Hub is run by the charity Mental Health Matters. It offers a free out-of-hours mental health crisis service for over 18s. Support is available virtually or in person without the need for a referral or appointment.

  • Compass Be Mental Health Support Team (MHST) works with children, young people, and families in education settings in Barnsley. They provide free, confidential support, help and advice. This is for pupils, students and schools for issues related to mental health and emotional wellbeing.

  • Creative Recovery has been bringing people together over shared passions. It uses creativity to support mental health and recovery, boost well-being, build communities and bring about social change. 

Looking after our own mental health

We all have mental health just like we have physical health and it’s important that we take steps to look after it. The following steps, known as the ‘five ways to wellbeing’, are easy and can be incorporated into our daily lives almost straight away.

1. Be active

Regular physical activity is associated with lower rates of depression. It doesn’t have to be intense to make a difference. Do as much or as little as you can. You could try walking, dancing, running, cycling or gardening. For ideas, see our sport and leisure pages.

2. Connect

People who are connected with family, friends or others ]in their community are generally happier. They also tend to be healthier, live longer and have fewer mental health problems. To connect with others you could join a group, help a friend or try volunteering. For ideas see Live Well Barnsley.

3. Give

People who offer an act of kindness once a week over six weeks report an improvement in their wellbeing. Giving could be smiling at someone and saying thank you. It could be volunteering within the local community or doing something nice for a colleague or friend. You can also find out about volunteering with us and our partners.

4. Keep learning

People should never stop learning. Learning throughout life enhances self-esteem as well as increases confidence. It also encourages social interaction and normally leads to people having a more active life. Why not learn a new skill like cooking, playing an instrument, fixing a bike, photography or painting? Our adult learning courses cover a range of interests. You might also find something to interest you on Live Well Barnsley.

5. Take notice

Life can be very busy with little time to stop and reflect. Studies have shown that when people are aware of what is taking place in the present it directly enhances wellbeing. People worry less about the future and what has happened in the past and can see what really matters.  This allows them to make positive choices.

There's lots of different ways to take notice:

  • stopping and observing
  • spending time with friends and family
  • enjoying nature
  • taking a different route home from work

Our museums and galleries are free and provide the perfect spaces to take time out and reflect.

Supporting someone in distress can be difficult in itself. If you're helping someone who feels suicidal, make sure you take care of yourself as well. If you need to talk about how you're feeling please call Samaritans for free on 116 123. You can also email whenever you need to.

Suicide bereavement support 

Amparo - suicide bereavement service 

Amparo provides support for anyone affected by suicide. Support can be provided one-to-one, to family groups, groups of colleagues or peers. It depends what you prefer and is most appropriate to your situation. The service can be delivered wherever you're most comfortable.

The service is confidential and can provide short term or longer term support, depending on what you feel you need.

Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide

Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide are a national charity who provide support to adults who've been bereaved by suicide. They have around 150 volunteers across the UK who help to run the services.

This service aims to break the isolation experienced by those bereaved by suicide. They're a self-help organisation and aim to provide a safe, confidential environment. This is so bereaved people can share their experiences and feelings, giving and gaining support from each other. 

Support for children, young people and families affected by suicide

Chilypep's 'Walk with Us' toolkit supports children, young people and families affected or bereaved by suicide. The Chilypep website has lots of information, services and resources. These are for those who may be affected or bereaved by suicide to help people know where to turn.

Visit the Chilypep website.

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