Youth and mental health

We all have good days and bad days. However, if you're feeling sad, down or anxious and these feelings have started to affect your everyday life, then it's important to find out what's going on and how you can manage it.

This section is for young people between the ages of 12 and 25.

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Stress, anxiety and feeling down can affect anyone, and happens to a lot of us at some point in our lives.

Over 75% of mental health issues occur before the age of 25, while suicide continues to cause the largest loss of life of young people in Australia.

It’s never too early to start looking after your mental health and wellbeing so you can be the best version of yourself.

Youth mental health challenges


We all experience anxious feelings sometimes – it might be about exam results, a job interview, or who will win the final of a sports match. These feelings are a normal part of life and can help us avoid danger or perform at our best. For some people though, their anxious feelings can be much more extreme. This anxiety is more than feeling stressed – it's a serious condition that can make day-to-day life difficult.

Find out more about the signs and symptoms, types of anxiety and treatment options.


It’s normal to feel down or sad from time to time. For some people, feelings of sadness and unhappiness can outweigh happy and excited emotions. When you have depression, these sad feelings become overwhelming and long-lasting, affecting how you think, how you feel, and what you do.

Find out more about the signs and symptoms, causes and treatment options.

Alcohol and drugs

Drugs and alcohol change the balance of the chemicals that help your brain to think, feel and make decisions, both now and in the future. Changing unhealthy drug and alcohol habits can take time, but with support you will notice your mental and physical wellbeing changing for the better.

Visit Kids Helpline to find more information on how alcohol and drugs can impact your body and mind and who can help.

Learn about mental health

It's taken most of my life to learn I am worthy of living - Emily's story

Emily shares their journey of depression, anxiety and ultimately, hope.
Read Emily's story about mental health

Factors affecting youth mental health

There can be many challenges to the way you think, act and feel when you’re finding your feet as a young person. If there’s something getting you down, whether it be exams, bullying or your body, there’s something you can do about it.

The challenges you face can have lasting impacts on your mental health, so it’s important to talk to someone about it and reach out for support.

To learn more about common life issues, you can find links to helpful information from ReachOut, Kids Helpline and more below.

Check your mental health

Physical health

Identity and gender
Check out ReachOut for information on cultural identity, gender, sexuality and spirituality.

Low self-esteem and body image
The Butterfly Foundation has information and support available for eating disorders, and low self-esteem and body image issues.

Physical health problems
Find information and learn strategies for managing the changes to life with a chronic illness at Reach Out.

School and work

Bullying and cyber-bullying
Find out what to do if you’re being bullied or have witnessed bullying at Reach Out.

Study stress
Reach Out have some great practical tips to help beat exam stress.

Learn about discrimination or unfair treatment due to gender, race/cultural background and age and how to deal with it at Kids Helpline.

Self-talk and self-awareness
Find tips on how to challenge your negative thinking and self-talk and become more positive at ReachOut.


Family break-up
Check out Kids Helpline’s advice to help you through when your parents separate or divorce.

Pregnancy and early parenthood
The Brave Foundation has information and support for expecting and parenting teens.

If you’re a young person and this sounds like you, you can complete the depression and anxiety (K10) assessment for more information.

Support options

There are times when problems seem overwhelming. If you’re feeling like this, one of the best things you can do is talk to someone. Finding someone to support you can help you take control of your problems and feel better.
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Family and friends

Sometimes it can be hard to talk about how you are feeling or what you’re thinking with your parents or close friends. You might think "What will they say?", "How will they understand?" But they want the best for you. They don’t want to see you hurting and not coping well.

Parents and friends will react in different ways. Some may be supportive and caring, while others might have trouble understanding your experiences. It can be surprising to see how helpful people can be when you let them know what's going on. Others might feel frustrated because they don't know how to help, or because they feel disappointed that they had not seen how unhappy or anxious you were.

If their reaction is because they don't know much about mental health, then you may be able to learn about it together. Talking about what is going on can really help. 

If you don’t have any family or friends you feel comfortable with, you could reach out to a health professional like your school counsellor or to a youth support service. Find more options below.
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Health professionals

Talking to your doctor/general practitioner (GP) is the best thing you can do to start supporting yourself. Your GP will usually ask questions to learn about you and how you’re feeling. They need this information to help them work out what’s going on and what might be the best way forward.

What you tell the doctor will be kept confidential – they won’t tell your family that you’ve had an appointment with them, or anything that happened during your appointment (unless they are very concerned about your safety).

If you’re uncomfortable with the first person you talk to, it’s okay to try someone else. Some people find it easier to talk to a doctor who is the same gender, is closer to them in age, or is not their family doctor. It can be useful to involve your parents, carers or a friend when you get help, so they can support you.

Beyond Blue offers free mental health coaching in New South Wales and Queensland via a program called NewAccess. Click here to find out more about NewAccess and if you are eligible.

Supporting a friend

If you are worried about a friend, it’s important to let them know what you’ve noticed. Listen to what they say without judgement and let them know you will help them get support. Remember, you do not have to offer a solution. Listening to, and validating someone’s feelings can be just as helpful. It helps if you know the options for support.
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Further resources

  • BITE BACK is a free, self-guided online wellbeing and resilience program for young people aged 13–16 years old.
  • BRAVE Program. An interactive, free online program for the prevention and treatment of childhood and adolescent anxiety.
  • Kids Helpline. The website has information and services to support young people through any problems – big or small.
  • Children of Parents with a Mental Illness (COPMI). Information for kids, teens and adults who have a parent with a mental health condition.

  • headspace. The website has information and services to support a young person going through a tough time.

  • moodgym. A free, fun, interactive program that helps you identify and overcome problem emotions and shows you how to develop good coping skills for the future. 
  • Reach Out. Use to figure things out and make life better. The website offers information and other resources designed specifically for young people.
  • Young carers. A place for young carers to learn about support services, access resources and share their stories and opinions.

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