Talking to a young person
A young person may find it uncomfortable discussing their thoughts and emotions openly with you. They may even get angry when you ask if they’re OK. Try to stay calm, and realise you may need to try raise the conversation in different ways over time to get a response.
If a young person doesn’t want to talk to you about his or her problems, try not to take it personally.
Give them reassurance and hope
If a young person has anxiety or depression, it will probably affect the way they think about things.
They’re more likely to approach situations negatively, believing nothing much can change or that things are hopeless. Anxiety can also get in the way of finding solutions. They may need:
- encouragement to explore options for help
- reassurance that things will be OK
- to focus on small steps and achievements.
Don’t tell them to ‘snap out of it’
When young people have anxiety or depression, it doesn’t help to pressure them to ‘snap out of it’. You can’t assume that the problem will go away without help.
You won’t always have the answers, and you may say the wrong thing at times – but simply showing you care and will be there to help them through this is what matters.
Offer emotional and practical support
Ask they how they want to be supported and suggest a few options:
- emotional support - being available to listen, offering reassurance
- practical support - help with homework or getting to a part time job.
Recovery is possible, but it can be a slow process.
Youth mental health services and support
Seek support from trusted friends or relatives, or talk to a counsellor about ways to cope and support the young person in your life.
Young people who resist seeing a doctor or a health professional may prefer to contact a professional over the phone or online, as this is anonymous and can be less confronting.
- Kids Helpline – 24/7 counselling for kids, teens and young adults aged between 5 and 25.
- headspace - mental health support for young people. Offering phone, chat and online community support.
- ReachOut - mental health service for young people and their parents. Offering self-help information, peer-support program and referral tools.
Support for educators
If you work with young people in early learning services and schools, there are resources available.
- Be You - find professional learning, tools and fact sheets to support your knowledge of mental health.