Get the help you deserve (Photo: Antonio Guillem /
- 4 min read

TELL: Mental Health Advocate and Help

It doesn't need to be scary asking for help in Japan

It isn’t a sign of weakness to reach out for help and there is, ultimately, no shame in it. Whether you’re a longtime ex-pat in Japan or a visitor feeling homesick, TELL is always there to answer your questions.

It’s an unfortunate truth that mental illness is largely stigmatized in society. This has been especially true in Japan. Until recently, it has been difficult to receive the necessary help. It’s also true that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, depression and anxiety are on the rise as more people find themselves isolated.

However, TELL has been offering crucial services to the English-speaking community since 1973 and it's always there to help anyone going through a troubled time.

Who is TELL

TELL was inspired by Inochi no Denwa, a Japanese-language suicide prevention line; and in April 1973, TELL took its first call in English. Before even a year passed, TELL had taken over 1,000 calls. This NPO has been serving the international community in Japan since that first phone call.

Today, TELL has open phone lines from 9 am to 11 pm with a base of volunteers helping real people cope with their problems. The organization offers free and accessible mental health services and education to the international community in Japan.

TELL’s services

Tell Lifeline

Asking for help when you feel vulnerable and alone can be very difficult—but it doesn’t have to be.

With a culturally diverse team, TELL Lifeline provides support and connection to people struggling across Japan. The telephone support is confidential and anonymous. Volunteers have been trained to help children, teens, and adults with whatever is troubling them—whether it’s life-threatening or not.

If you’re struggling, you can call 03-5774-0992 from 9 am to 11 pm any day.

It also offers an online chat Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 10:30 pm to 2 am.

TELL Counseling

If you’d prefer to receive help face-to-face, TELL Counseling offers mental health care services in a variety of languages. The counseling is confidential and fees are flexible. With four locations—in Tokyo, Yokohama, Okinawa, and Kyoto—you can visit in-person or try a video counseling call.

To schedule an appointment or discuss options, call 03-4550-1146.

If you find that you need to speak to someone immediately, please use the TELL Lifeline (03-5774-0992).

TELL Outreach

TELL Outreach helps provide the necessary tools to understand mental illness and its effects. Outreach has resources available to parents, schools, and companies to better help people understand, identify, and aid mental health issues.

From suicide awareness and anti-bullying tactics to company stress and school awareness programs, TELL Outreach is there to educate and assist. Call 03-4550-1191 for more information.

Get help

TELL offers help in a variety of ways, from hotline chat to online text chat to in-person counseling. The important thing is to get the help that is right for you when you need it.

Please, use these resources if you or a loved one is suffering:

  • TELL Hotline, 9 am to 11 pm 03-5774-0992
  • TELL Chat Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 10:30 pm to 2 am
  • TELL Counseling, Monday to Friday 10 am to 3 pm 03-4550-1146
  • TELL Outreach 03-4550-1191

If you cannot get in touch with TELL and you need assistance, here are some emergency numbers:

110 Police

03-3501-0110 English-speaking police (24 hours)

119 Ambulance

119 Fire


With so many vital and necessary services, it should come as no surprise that TELL also needs support from the community to continue its NPO cause.

You can help by donating time or money to support TELL.

Monetary donations help TELL carry out their day-to-day tasks and continue to help vulnerable people make it through difficult times. There are fundraiser events, such as the TELL Tokyo Tower Climb and the Step Up for Mental Health Challenge. Both events bring awareness to World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10) and World Mental Health Day (October 10).

Serve as a volunteer to help make change happen in the growing community of foreigners in Japan. TELL offers online training at various times of the year to people who'd like to volunteer their time after a short interview process.

Follow TELL on social media (Twitter) (Facebook) or receive updates by newsletter.

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Elizabeth S 3 years ago
TELL staff visited a school I taught at as part of the Lifeline School Awareness Program. They took great care to talk to staff and students, and the students became more candid and felt safe to talk to adults. So grateful to TELL!
Kim 3 years ago
Such an important service. Love that they also have online chat for those who may not want to talk on the phone.
Serena Ogawa Author 3 years ago
Definitely an important and useful NPO that everyone should be aware of. Doing great work!
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