It takes courage to ask for help
Every day I see articles in the news about people struggling to come forward and ask for help – be it about domestic violence, mental illness, child abuse, gender issues, self harm, cancer, crime, homelessness, poverty… I could go on and on, because there are a whole host of issues where it is simply too hard to go it alone and where we, as a community, need to pull together to help each other.
Obviously there are lots of difficulties with support and services being available to those who need them, but equally it is clear that many people find it really difficult (if not impossible) to ask for help in the first place. Why don’t people come forward earlier? Why aren’t the people who need help connecting with those who can offer it? Why is it so hard to take that first step and reach out?
As a medical librarian I can see from the research that there are plenty of reasons being identified, including the way services are promoted and carried out. But my heart also tells me that there are some very human reasons why we often don’t take that first step.
How hard is it for any of us to make that first phone call, or that first appointment? How scary can it be? How hard is it to confide in a stranger? Especially if you are feeling down, blaming yourself for some reason, or feel a failure? What if you are scared of the response? Will you be believed? Will it be worth the effort? Is it harder for an introvert to reach out than it is for an extrovert? If you are overcome by anxiety, is it even more difficult to make that call when you need help the most? Can the problem itself be the barrier to asking for help?
Unfortunately, I can’t change any of those things. I can’t force people to ask for help, and I can’t force individuals, services and communities to respond with empathy. But I can share a way to openly acknowledge that seeking help takes strength and a great deal of courage.
The simple fact that someone is reaching out, and trusting those who they are reaching out to, is wonderful. It is something we should celebrate and respond to. Above all, we need to show respect to those who have made that leap of faith by asking for help. That’s why I painted this picture. And that’s why I’m sharing a downloadable version free for non profit purposes. Click on any picture on this page and the poster will start downloading.
I’ll confess that I didn’t start this piece of mixed media with this serious message in mind. It actually began with a simple tracing of my hand, inspired by a lesson by Rachel Rice on Life Book. From there it had a mind of its own, as my work often has, and this story about courage simply appeared. I think it was meant to be.
I really hope that this picture is useful as a helpful reminder, and a celebration of courage. I can see it on hospital walls, in counselor’s offices, in schools and homes. I hope it changes attitudes and provides strength and encouragement at difficult times.
The poster is shared in good faith, as a gesture of goodwill and a way of paying it forward. It is for non profit use, “as is” without editing, and I retain copyright. If you want to use it in any other way other than the PDF provided, please ask me first. I hope it makes a difference. Please let me know if it does. Download poster here
PS: A partner to this poster is already on its way. It is about welcoming those who seek help with respect, support and empathy. Stay tuned.