Mental illness often has a ‘ripple effect’ on families and friends of young people experiencing mental health difficulties.
When to get help?
Friends and family members are often the first to notice changes but may find it difficult to talk about them. They may also be embarrassed about seeking help or not know where to go for help. Instead they may decide to wait, hoping that problems will sort themselves out. But for most mental health problems, seeking early help has the best results. If you are unsure about your loved one's health, it is best to seek professional advice.
What to look for?
The following are some signs of mental health problems in children and young people. If they last more than a few weeks, it may be time to seek professional help.
- Changes in usual sleeping or eating patterns
- Restlessness, irritability and trouble concentrating
- Feeling hopeless or worthless
- Reluctance to go to school or take part in normal activities
- Lack of energy or motivation
- Constant worrying or preoccupation with certain thoughts, fearfulness
- Overuse of alcohol and other drugs
If young people have persistent thoughts about hurting themselves or suicide, they may need urgent professional help. Refer to our list of CRISIS support numbers.
How can we look after ourselves?
When someone becomes extremely unwell, it can be distressing and confusing for others, as well as the person concerned. When caring for someone else, it's important to remember to look after yourself and other family members too.
- Allow for regular 'time out'. Make sure to make time to regularly do things you enjoy and to socialise.
- Talk about how you feel. Don't 'bottle up' feelings if you are sometimes frustrated or need support.
- Be sensible about what you reasonably can - and cannot - do. Ensure that this is realistic and fair, and that it includes time for yourself and others as well as the person you are caring for.
- Don't try to do too much. Pace yourself and look out for signs that you are becoming stressed. Have a plan for what to do if this happens.
Where can I get support?
As a first step, you may prefer to talk to someone you trust such as your general practitioner, someone in your local community health centre, a teacher, or school counsellor.
If you are worried about a young person, need some advice or want someone to talk to, there are a range of support options available.
headspace Craigieburn offers the Tuning in to Teens program for parents and carers to help your teen develop emotional intelligence and resilience. Call us on 03 8338 0919 to see when the next group is running.
Family support services
BreakThru Family Mental Health Support Service (FMHSS) provides free, flexible support that that is responsive to children, young people and families affected by, or at risk of, mental health issues, through access to a range of early intervention and education services.
Contact (03) 9483 2401 to make a referral or for more information.
Child FIRST ensures that vulnerable children, young people and their families are linked effectively into relevant services. Family services aims to promote the safety, stability and development of vulnerable children, young people and their families, and to build capacity and resilience for children, families and communities.
Contact 1300 786 433 to make a referral or for more information.
Telephone support services
eheadspace offers specialist help for parents, families and other supportive adults who are looking for assistance due to concerns about a young person's mental health. If you are a parent, family member or other supportive adult, you can access support through phone, webchat or email.
Parentline Victoria provides a state-wide telephone counselling service to parents and carers of children aged from birth to eighteen years.
Contact 13 22 89 - 8am to midnight 7 days a week
1800RESPECT is a national sexual assult, domestic & family violence counselling service that can provide information and refer you to support services that can help.
Contact 1800 737 732 to speak to a counsellor.
Family counselling services
Family relationship centre provides all families (whether together or separated) with access to information about family relationship issues, ranging from building better relationships to dispute resolution.
Relationships Victoria is committed to providing high quality and comprehensive services that assist families and children to overcome challenges, grow and thrive.
The Bouverie Centre work with families, more specifically families affected by alcohol and other drugs, gambling and mental health, to help them strengthen relationships and resolve problems standing in the way of their well-being.
Personal or individual support
For adults seeking counselling support the Australian Psychological Society has a list of psychologists available in your local area based on your individual needs.
How do I find out more?
headspace National has a page of useful information about mental health for parents and carers