Barriers to seeking help

1 hour

Create a safe and positive learning environment by agreeing ground rules for the session.

Download the session Barriers to Seeking Help  

In this session we will learn:

  • about help that‘s available
  • how to access and accept help when it is offered
  • to think through potential outcomes from different choices
  • to make the right choices about seeking and accepting help
  • to challenge the stigma and/or anxiety associated with asking for or accepting help




Digital resources

Feeling free to talk film (Youtube, download mp4)



  1. Warm up game: This exercise is designed to help students look at barriers to asking for help. One student starts by walking across to another student and making up a situation that they need help with. For example, they need help to fix a puncture on their bike. The student asking for help stays in character, and the person being asked for help has to respond negatively, for example by laughing or making fun of them for not being able to do it themselves. The two then swap, so the person who was asked now pairs up with another student and becomes the one who is asking for help. Continue for as long as you have time, or until everyone has had a turn. Discuss how it felt to have your request for help rebuffed, how easy was it to be negative to the request? All of these responses are barriers to getting support.
  2. Divide class into threes A, B and C. Ask students to choose one of the group to be in the hot seat to be the character on the card, and hand them a scenario card (or make up a scenario it would be hard to talk about). One student will interview the other – and the third will observe and take notes.


Interview questions:

  • Why won’t/can’t you (the character) ask for help?
  • What do you think would happen if you did?
  • What would encourage you to ask for help?

(Add any other relevant questions they think of) 

  1. Spread the ‘barriers to seeking support’ cards around the room to students in groups. They then have to decide how to persuade someone to overcome this barrier, for example if something is ‘too embarrassing’, they could speak to someone anonymously first. Share ideas as a group and decide on the best response for each. Feed back as a whole class and generate lots of ideas about how to go about seeking help.
  2. Plenary: Repeat the warm up but this time ask students to have a response to each barrier that is presented. Encourage others to help to share ideas.



  • What could stop me asking for help if I needed it?
  • How can I make this easier for myself?

(Make sure students know where they can go to for help both in and out of school – refer to support network session).


Links and Learning Journeys

This session links to: Self-harm myths and facts | Supporting a friend My support network | Knowing when to get support | Let it out

It is also part of 2 suggested learning journeys:

Learning journey: learning about me: What is emotional health? | Building resilience | Let it out | Being positive | Barriers to seeking help | Making assumptions (short) | Helping my friends

Learning journey: accessing support: Ups and downs of the day | My support network | Developing listening skills | Barriers to seeking help | Making assumptions (short) | Helping my friends

Make sure young people know what support is available and how to access this support.