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When & How to Ask For Help

Last updated February 21, 2024

Everyone needs help now and then! Whether you’re struggling with a class concept, need some extra time to take care of tasks at work, or feel overwhelmed by your responsibilities at home, it’s completely okay to ask for help when you need it. The people in your life won’t know that you’re feeling overwhelmed or need support unless you tell them! This can feel intimidating, but knowing when and how to ask for help is a valuable life skill that can benefit you for years to come. Here are some tips for recognizing when you need help and who/how to ask for it!

A teacher helps students in a classroom - When & How to Ask For Help

If you need academic support

If you’re having difficulty understanding class lessons or topics, are overwhelmed with your course load, or just need some extra academic support, reach out to your educator. You can email them, attend office hours (if you're in college), or schedule a meeting with them to ask for the support you need. It’s helpful to be specific about the concerns or questions you have so they can help you to the best of their ability. You can make a list, come prepared with talking points, or highlight lessons or concepts that you need help with.

If you’re struggling or need extra support at work

Working any job comes with its stress, but it’s important to receive support when needed. If you’re having trouble prioritizing tasks at work, need extra time or help understanding how to take care of your work responsibilities, or are struggling to juggle work with outside responsibilities such as school, talk to your manager or supervisor as soon as possible. You can schedule a meeting with them, email them, or raise any concerns in regular check-ins with them. Be specific about what you need support with, what pain points you’re coming across, and how they can help. They can help you prioritize tasks, potentially make changes to your schedule, and offer tips and solutions to issues you come across. If needed, you may also consider looping in the HR department to ensure you are receiving the support you need.

If you need mental or emotional support

Your mental and emotional wellbeing comes before anything else. If you are struggling or need mental and emotional support, we recommend talking to a professional– they are trained to support you and to be a safe space to listen without judgment or fear. If you’re in college, your school most likely has a counseling center where students can talk to a mental health professional for free. If you’re not in college, there are many free and low-cost mental health resources that can provide support.

In addition to talking to a mental health professional, we recommend (only if it feels safe to do so) being open and honest with the people in your life when you're in need of help. This is especially important if you are a minor or are in college, since seeking professional mental health services may require things like health insurance information or parental consent. The people in your life care about you and want to ensure you are receiving the support you need.

If you’re struggling to juggle family responsibilities with other responsibilities

As you begin to take on more academically, professionally, and socially, it may be hard to balance those responsibilities with your responsibilities at home. If your family depends on you for help, it can feel intimidating to set boundaries or be vocal about what you need, but it is very necessary for your wellbeing. If you feel stressed or overwhelmed about juggling your responsibilities, talk to someone in your family. Be open and honest about your commitments, what feels hard to balance, and what support you need. A family member may be able to take something off your plate or offer advice or support to help you take care of your responsibilities. Talking to family can be tricky, so we recommend checking in with a trusted friend or adult in your life about how you want to approach the situation.

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