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The UK’s top mental health charities: How they help and how to support them

If you’re looking to support one of the UK’s mental health charities, or looking for help, this guide is for you

While stigmas and taboos around mental health are rapidly being shattered, those experiencing difficulties are as needing of support as they have ever been. Thankfully, there are a wide range of mental health charities in the UK offering support to those who need it.

From support groups to helplines, volunteers around the country work to make sure help is available – especially where it may not be on offer otherwise.

The Big Issue has compiled this list of the UK’s most prominent mental health charities, together with information on how they can help you, and how you can support them.

The big mental health charities in the UK include:

Mind

Perhaps the UK’s most prominent mental health charity, Mind was founded in 1946 and counts Stephen Fry as its president.

In line with its size and profile, Mind runs both support and advocacy work for those with mental health difficulties.

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It provides confidential information and advice through its InfoLine, as well as information on mental health-related law through its Legal Line.

It has around 125 local, affiliated Mind associations, offering specialised support for communities.

Alongside this, Mind campaigns for change around mental health – including pushing for reform to the Mental Health Act.

You can donate directly to support Mind through this link. Mind also runs charity shops across the country – you can support them by donating or shopping.

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Samaritans

On November 2 1953, a vicar named Chad Varah answered a phone call from somebody thinking of suicide. Nearly 70 years on, over 20,000 Samaritans volunteers help operate its 24-hour helpline, taking calls from those needing help.

Alongside its hotline, Samaritans produces research on how at-risk groups can be supported, and provides media guidelines, ensuring coverage of suicide avoids making the problem worse.

You can apply to become a volunteer for their hotline, providing support for those who desperately need it, here. Samaritans also accept text donations, following the instructions here.

Its free hotline is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and can be reached at 116 123.

Young Minds

The Covid-19 pandemic and the UK’s lockdowns have put a renewed focus on the mental health of the country’s young people. In any given classroom, an estimated five children have a mental health problem.

YoungMinds works to make sure every young person is properly supported with their mental health, and aims to stop young people reaching a crisis point.

To support this mental health charity, you can buy merch, fundraise, join an event, or give money online.

mental health charities
There are a range of mental health charities offering support in the UK. Image: Unsplash

Rethink Mental Illness

Rethink’s work focuses on those caring for people with experience of mental illness, as well as those experiencing it themselves.

It offers 90 mental health services, including support for carers, helplines, and advocacy.

Rethink also runs over 140 support groups, both in-person and online, run by volunteers and offering the chance to connect with people with similar experiences.

Volunteers with the charity can fulfil a number of roles, from sharing their experience in the media to supporting people living with mental illness. To fundraise for Rethink, click here.

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Place2Be

Another charity focusing on children’s mental health, Place2Be provides mental health support in school.

“We believe that children should not have to face mental health problems alone” is its mission statement.

Along with providing in-school counselling and training, Place2Be provides resources for parents of children experiencing mental health problems.

You can donate to Place2Be here, and volunteer here – with opportunities including working on a free text service or helping with a Young Voices concert.

Together for Mental Wellbeing

Founded in 1879, making it one of the country’s oldest mental health charities, Together focuses on individuals, and making sure people experiencing mental health difficulties are at the heart of their own recoveries.

The charity offers 24-hour residential accommodation, and its Your Way programme provides personalised support for individuals.

Follow this link to find out how to donate.

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Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families

Born in 1895, as the youngest child of Sigmund Freud, Anna Freud became a pioneer of child psychology.

The clinic she established in Hampstead in 1952 is now the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families.

Its vision is “a world where children and families are supported effectively to build on their strengths and to achieve their goals in life.”

The centre offers clinical support for children, as well as support in schools and colleges. You can donate here.

Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM)

Suicide is the single biggest killer of men under 45. The mental health charity Campaign Against Living Miserably, or CALM, fights to change this.

Its frontline services include a free confidential helpline (available by calling 0800 58 58 58 from 5pm to midnight) and a web chat service.

CALM also offers bereavement support through its Support After Suicide Partnership.

To support calm, you can take on a challenge to fundraise – whether it’s a 5k run or a marathon – or donate directly.

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