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The Samaritans

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Published: 16 July 2021

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This Saturday 24 July is mental health and suicide prevention charity Samaritans annual awareness day.  

Each year they have a wide range of activities planned to get the word out that help is available if you need it.  

Founded nearly 70 years ago, the Samaritans were created to give support to people struggling to cope.   

They started as a 24-hour, seven day a week phone service, with dedicated staff ready to listen to those in distress without judgement.  

Since its early days, it’s become one of the UK’s largest charities expanding to include an online chat, letter writing service, email, self-help app and more.   

One of the things that set the Samaritans apart is their strict confidentiality policy. Other than some legal requirements, they will not share anything you tell them with anyone unless you give your permission.  

This means you can use their service feeling completely confident that you can say what you need.   

Their awareness campaign is called 24/7, standing for both the date (24th of July) and the fact they are open every day, whatever the time.  

That last point is important. The charity is keen to stress people should always be able to access the information they need to get help.  

You can do that yourself through their free phone line on 116 123 – their number doesn’t show up on your bill either so it’s only you and the person you speak with that ever need to know you called.  

If you prefer writing your thoughts out, you could try emailing them at jo@samaritans.org, but be aware they don’t tend to respond straight away so if it’s urgent you might be better calling.  

Or you can download their recently created app which allows you to track your mood and try out their coping techniques.  

What happens when you call them?  

If you use their free phone line, you will immediately be put through to one of their team of volunteers.  

You’ll hear the words “Samaritans, how can I help you?”  

It's your opportunity to talk through anything and everything you’re feeling in that moment.   

They’ll only speak to ask you questions, not guiding your actions in any way. Their focus is on your thoughts and feelings, so they might ask you more about that.  

If you’re struggling with a low mood or difficult feelings and emotions, there are people like the Samaritans who want to help you.  

It’s important to remember that whatever you’re going through, you are not alone.   

Although the Samaritans can guide you on what to do in a mental health crisis, if you (or someone you know) is at immediate risk of harm, the best thing to do is always call 999.  

Alternatively, you could get in touch with your local NHS crisis centre.   

Your Health and Wellbeing team are available to talk with you Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm if you should need further support or information. 

Book your appointments through Compass, email the team at londonhealth@sunderland.ac.uk, or call on 0207 531 7343.   

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