Depression...not a dirty word
It is common for teenagers to experience depression, with 1 in 16 young people aged 16-24 having experienced it. Your teen could be going through a normal adolescent stage of wanting to be alone and figuring themselves out but talking about their emotions can equip them for the future, not only for themselves but for looking out for mates too.
If you notice that your child isn’t acting like their usual self, it is important to have a conversation with them about what’s up. Showing that you’re concerned for their wellbeing can create an open space for them to talk about the tough time they’re going through and can remove the stigma that mental ill-health isn’t something that you talk about.
Create a safe space
A great way to make your teen feel comfortable to talk about what is going on with them is to create a safe space. For some this will mean sitting down in a quiet, comfortable spot in the house. For others you may need to try different things, like going for a drive or doing the dishes, as these casual settings may make them more willingly to open up. The most important thing is to try to be non-judgemental and to not jump immediately into fix-it mode, as much as your natural parenting instincts might want you to.
Here are some tips to make that happen:
However, sometimes the best laid plans still don’t work out. For whatever reason, your child just may not quite feel comfortable talking with you. If this is the case, encourage them to speak to someone who they are comfortable such as a close friend or another family member. This can build trust within your own relationship, letting them also take control in what is going on.
Engage in the conversation
It’s tempting to ask a million questions because you want to get to the bottom of this and help them. However, it can overwhelm them and stop them from really explaining and understanding how they’re feeling. Instead, remember that the aim is for them to be in control and talk about what they are going through.
Showing that you’re engaged in the conversation with your child will make them feel like they’re being heard and understood.
"Am I a bad parent?"
A lot of parents feel a sense of shame and like it’s their fault when they find out their child is struggling. But the realised is that your teen needs your support more than ever.
How to support your teenager
First up it’s important to check in with yourself. It can be stressful finding out your teenager is struggling and to support them to the best of your ability you’ll need to be in a good mindset. Don’t be afraid to do some teen self-care or talk to somebody you trust or a professional about what’s going on.
After discussing with your teen on what they are comfortable with doing in order to get help there are different options:
Your teen can find information and support at:
their school counsellor or youth worker