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Need to talk about stuff that’s hard to talk about when you don’t even know who to talk to? Yeah. It can be like that sometimes.

No two people experience school and life the same way. Some days you’ll probably feel like the road you’re on is way rougher than everyone else’s – and it’s true that you might face some challenges that your mates don’t have to. This can be a lonely experience, especially if you need to talk or find help but have no idea where to begin.

Talking with friends

It’s OK to reach out to a friend if you want to talk. Sometimes finding someone who ‘gets you’ can help you get it off your chest and feel understood is exactly what you need. Letting your friends know what’s going on in your life can help you build a support network and feel safe. Likewise, if a friend says they need to talk, make sure you give them your time too – you never know what someone is going through, but you can be there to help.

Who can help at school

Sometimes you need someone else to talk to and that’s OK too. There’s support in the school, and it’s there to be used. No matter how big or small it is, if it’s bothering you, distracting you or is on your mind, it’s time to talk.

Those people at school – the Guidance Officers, Counsellors, Chaplains, Youth Support Coordinators, Year Level Coordinators – it’s kind of their job to have your back.

Pick your person, pick your moment, and make your move

Asking for help can seem huge, but there are ways to make it easy:

Find the right time. Make sure it’s the right time for you. Some days you’ll be angry, or won’t be able to find the right words. Always reach out when you need help, but try to talk again on days when you’re feeling calm and ready to talk. If you want privacy from your peers, think about finding some time before or after school.

Find the right person. Depending on your school, this could be as simple as contacting your Guidance Officer directly, or striking up a conversation with a trusted teacher or staff member. Think about who you feel comfortable talking to, and don’t hesitate to bring someone with you if you think it would help. When you’re thinking about who to talk to, it can help to suss out who’s who in the staff team on your school website, or spend next school assembly making a shortlist of all the people at your school who don’t seem like total jerks.

Make sure they know you’re asking for help. That doesn’t mean getting full Kanye on whoever you’re talking to, but if you brush it aside and say it’s not important, they might too. If there’s something on your mind and you need help, make sure someone knows. Try asking if they have a moment to talk and if you want privacy, make sure you ask if you can talk in private. Teachers have a lot on their minds and might not immediately realise the importance if you don’t make it clear. If this has happened to you, don’t be disheartened, just try saying it another way.

Nobody can read minds. To make changes, you need to make them understand, so try explaining it in as many ways as you can, until you think they see where you’re coming from. Talking about your problems and challenges and exploring solutions can be the start of something huge for you – feeling safe at home, happier relationships with your teachers, flexible timetable options, and finding a way to make school work for you.

Think you’re out of options? If you’ve had bad experiences with everyone at your school or can’t find anybody you want to talk to, there are more places you can look.  Each school is supported by a regional office — and these offices can put you in touch with all kinds of support staff.