Little is known about high school students' perceptions of school-based pastoral support. This study aimed to explore this in the context of a high school-based emotional support project. Methods: Qualitative interviews explored perspectives on help seeking of students (N = 23) and staff (N = 27) in three UK high schools where a pastoral project was introduced. Data were analysed thematically. Results: Student peer groups perceived help seeking as a sign of weakness. However, students valued learning skills in managing emotions and friendships. Staff expressed concerns about students' ability to help seek proactively, and highlighted organisational influences on pastoral support. Conclusions: Increasing student control over the process, and involving trusted staff, could encourage help seeking in high school. It is possible to access the views of students who do not help seek, to improve understanding of help-seeking behaviour.