Encourage me to feel able to talk

Encourage me to feel able to talk

  • Let me know that I can talk to you
  • Support me to understand what would happen if I talked to you
  • Support me to know that you understand why it can be hard to talk and why I may be worried about talking
  • Let me know that you will believe me

Young people say

“It’s difficult to talk about what’s happening to you. You worry how someone will react.” Young Person

“You become a master of disguise. You’re trying to hide it and pretend everything is OK but also want someone to see…” Young Person

“Healthcare workers need to show young people that they’ll believe them.” Young Person

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“I talk about examples to let them know I understand that young people find it hard to talk or may be worried about talking. I’ll say things like ‘I’m worried about you because I’ve seen X – other young people have told me it’s hard to talk as they’re worried they’ll get into trouble or it will make things worse etc.’ It shows them that I understand and that I want to hear and help them.”

Healthcare professional

“I know young people can worry about what would happen if they tell an adult something, so I try to reassure them by saying ‘Young people have told me they worried about telling me things because they didn't know what I would do, so if you do talk to me about something, it’s important you know that we would plan together what would happen next’. This helps to reassure them they would feel in control.”


“We often talk through hypothetical situations to look at the different options, like carrying on as they are or telling someone. We look at all the risks and benefits. It helps them to understand what could happen, shows them they have choices and helps them to see what could happen.”

Social worker

“If I suspect something is wrong, but the person isn’t opening up, it’s often because they unsure what will happen or are too frightened. I’ll let them know I’m worried and then think out loud and talk them through all the different options and the pros and cons of talking or not talking. For example, I might say ‘I know it’s hard to talk, but let’s think about the risks of not talking – the situation could get worse, you could be in more danger and X,Y and Z could happen. If we talk about it, these are all the options for help, support and advice and we could x,y and z and plan together how to make you feel safe.’ Even if they don't open up then, it enables them to understand and make a more informed choice about whether they want to talk. It shows them we have noticed and, even though it’s difficult, we care enough to have the conversation.”

Domestic violence and safeguarding worker

“Young people can worry that they might get into trouble if they talk. I name this and say ‘I know some people think or have been told that they’ll be in trouble if they talk – I want you to know that you won’t get into trouble and I’m here to listen.’”


“We need to know what will happen next or who will need to know. There’s a way of saying it better… “if you tell me things that have harmed you or could harm you, I will have to tell someone, but I’m going to agree with you first what I tell them and I’ll involve you in the process because this is to do with you. We can agree what I will say.’ This really helps you prepare yourself for what is going to happen.”

Young person

“If I feel a young person is struggling to talk, I say ‘It really feels like you want to tell me something, but maybe you don't feel able to. That’s ok. I understand it can feel very difficult. Would it be easier to write it down?’.”

Healthcare worker

“Some young people have their phone with them and they’re recording the conversation. So I write down ‘if you can’t speak to me you can write it down’. Or I’ll ask them to come back and see me next week and tell them they can write things down and show me if it’s hard to say them out loud.”

Sexual health worker

“In the build-up to saying something, sometimes young people can get angry, upset or more withdrawn – respond to their feelings not their behaviour.”

Safeguarding worker

“Some young people have been threatened with physical harm to either themselves or to a loved one if they disclose. It is important to let them know you will assist them achieve safety once they have disclosed.”

Social worker

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