For Parents

CHANGES IN YOUNG PEOPLE

Young people can go through many different changes as they grow up. Raising sensitive issues and resolving problems that arise along the way can be challenging for them.

It can often be hard as a parent to know the difference between normal behaviour, such as occasional moodiness and irritability, and an emerging mental health problem.

If a young person develops a mental health problem it is important that they get support from both their family and friends and health professionals.

MENTAL HEALTH AND MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS IN YOUNG PEOPLE

Feeling down, tense, angry, anxious or moody are all normal emotions for young people, but when these feelings persist for long periods of time, or if they begin to interfere with their daily life, they may be part of a mental health problem. Mental health problems can also influence how young people think and their ability to function in their everyday activities, whether at school, at work or in relationships.

If you think you know a young person whose mental health is getting in the way of their daily life, it is important to let them know you are there to support them.

Good mental health is about being able to work and study to your full potential, cope with day-to-day life stresses, be involved in your community and live life in a free and satisfying way.

A young person who has good mental health has good emotional and social wellbeing and the capacity to cope with change and challenges.

WHAT AFFECTS A YOUNG PERSON'S MENTAL HEALTH?

There is no one “cause” for mental health concerns. Instead, it seems that a number of overlapping factors may increase the risk of a young person developing a mental health problem. These can include:

  • Biological factors – family history of mental health problems
  • Adverse early life experiences – abuse, neglect, death or a significant loss or trauma
  • Individual psychological factors – self-esteem, coping skills or thinking style
  • Current circumstances – stress from work or school, money problems or difficult personal relationships, or problems within your family
  • Serious illness or physical injury
  • Drugs and alcohol – use and experimentation.

Learn from mistakes – whether by you or by the young person – to learn and keep moving forward.

Having some conflict and then repairing the relationship is more important than avoiding doing anything because you fear upsetting the young person.

Some important things to remember about young people

Young people need a sense of belonging, connectedness to their family, friends and community, and to make a meaningful contribution

Firm and consistent boundaries are essential, but try to involve the young person in negotiating acceptable ‘rules’

A balance between self-responsibility and support helps a ‘child’ grow to an ‘adult’

Young people need to do things differently from their parents and become individuals in their own right

Teenagers and young adults often question everything their family say and do

Try to stay confident in yourself, but also be open to learning

parents bullying help
kids helpline

Kids Helpline is available for young people aged 5-25 and parents anytime and for any reason.

Free call 1800 55 1800

or visit kidshelpline.com.au

WARNING SIGNS

Most parents can tell when something is out of the ordinary, but there are also signs that suggest a young person might be experiencing a mental health problem. These are new, noticeable and persistent changes in the young person, lasting at least a few weeks, including:

Not Enjoying, Or Not Wanting To Be Involved In Things That They Would Normally Enjoy

Changes In Appetite Or Sleeping Patterns

Being Easily Irritated Or Angry For No Reason

Their Performance At School, TAFE, University Or Work Is Not As Good As It Should Be Or As It Once Was

Expressing Negative, Distressing, Bizarre Or Unusual Thoughts

Experiencing Difficulties With Their Concentration

Seeming Unusually Stressed, Worried, Down Or Crying For No Reason

Involving Themselves In Risky Behaviour That They Would Usually Avoid, Like Taking Drugs Or Drinking Too Much Alcohol

HOW TO HELP THE YOUNG PERSON YOU ARE WORRIED ABOUT

Keep communication open, show empathy and don’t rush into judgments

Talk openly and honestly with them, and let them know that you are concerned

Be available without being intrusive or ‘pushy’

Reassure them that you will be there for them, and ask what they need from you

Ask direct questions if you are concerned about suicide. For example: ‘Have you been thinking about death?’ ‘Have you thought about ending your life?’

Let them know that there is lots of help available

Help find an appropriate service, such as a headspace centre (headspace.org.au) and support them in attending

Take the person’s feelings seriously

Spend time with the person. Take an interest in their activities and encourage them to talk about what’s happening in their life

Encourage and support positive friendships

Encourage activities that promote mental health, such as exercise, healthy eating, regular sleep, and doing things the person enjoys

Give positive feedback

Let the person know that you love them. They may not always admit it, but this is likely to be very important to them.

Look after yourself as well.  Get some support by talking to someone you trust, and seek professional help for yourself if you need it.

Thanks to headspace – National Youth Mental Health Foundation for the above information.  The above information is not intended to be and should not be relied on as a substitute for specific medical or health advice. While every effort is taken to ensure the information is accurate, headspace makes no representations and gives no warranties that this information is correct, current, complete, reliable or suitable for any purpose. We disclaim all responsibility and liability for any direct or indirect loss, damage, cost or expense whatsoever in the use of or reliance upon this information.

NEED HELP OR MORE INFORMATION?

kids helpline

E-Safety Government Resources

The e-Safety Commissioner’s Office provides assistance to parents and children through the following initiatives:

• Young & eSafe is a youth-oriented platform designed to engage and empower young people to take control of their online experiences. The site provides real life stories, advice and support for young people to navigate their lives online.

• iParent provides information to parents and carers about online risks, managing these risks, parental controls, and trending issues and technologies.

eSafetyWomen is an online portal where women can learn to manage risks around technology facilitated abuse, providing them with the tools they need to protect themselves and be more confident online.