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headspace extends phone line for parents

headspace, the national youth mental health organisation, has extended its phone line to support parents who are concerned about the mental health and wellbeing of their child.

The extension of the support and information line comes as new headspace research found family is a significant influence when young people are seeking help for mental health issues, particularly for young men.

The research, co-authored by headspace Chief Scientific Adviser Professor Debra Rickwood, was gathered from nearly 31,000 young people across Australia. It found the younger the adolescent (12 - 15) the more influential family is likely to be in the help-seeking process.

Further, family is a significantly stronger influence for young men across all age groups when seeking help, compared to women. A quarter of young adult men still reported their family as a strong influence in accessing support.

headspace CEO, Chris Tanti said having resources available for parents via the phone is important as they are usually the first ones to notice there may be something not quite right with their son or daughter.

"Parents are key in driving young people to get the right support at the right time, particularly mothers of young men, but they often don't know how or when to approach it," Mr Tanti said.

"Parents might notice changes in their child's behaviour over a period of time. For example, they might withdraw from the family, stop doing things they usually enjoy or become constantly irritable."

"However what we consistently hear from parents is that it can be difficult to know whether to put this behaviour down to regular teenage moodiness or an emerging mental health problem that needs to be addressed."

In addition to the phone line, headspace.org.au has been updated with tools and resources to help support parents who are concerned about their child including videos with professional advice from headspace psychologists to help parents identify warning signs and have tricky conversations.

The new headspace resources for parents aligns with a national radio and print campaign designed to help parents recognise the early warning signs that their son or daughter may need support for a mental health problem.

The headspace campaign shows it can be difficult to recognise mental health problems in teenagers, however parents are in a good position to notice mood and behaviour changes that indicate something might be wrong.

Mr Tanti said parents don't need to be able to solve all the problems, but noticing subtle changes and signs that something isn't right is a good first step.

"The headspace phone line provides an avenue for parents to get valuable information while navigating the difficult time during adolescence," Mr Tanti said.

"We want Australian mums and dads to know they don't have to do it alone. There is support available and headspace is the place to go - whether it be face-to-face, online or over the phone."

"Free help is only a call or click away."

The phone line (1800 650 890) is available to parents between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday and is staffed by qualified youth mental health professionals.

headspace is the only national youth mental service delivering early intervention support to young people and their families in-person, online and via the phone.

headspace tips for parents:

• Talk openly and honestly with your son/daughter and ask what they need from you.

• Encourage them to talk about how they are feeling - be patient and listen to their fears and concerns.

• If they are distressed, don't tell them to 'just calm down' or 'get over it' - they need to be taken seriously.

• Avoid judgment and reassure them that you will be there for them no matter what.

• Let them know if they don't want to talk to you, there's lots of help available.

• Support them in seeking help and talking to health professionals, such as at a headspace centre, if that is what they prefer.

For more tips and information visit the parents section of the headspace website.

Parents can call the headspace number 1800 650 890 between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday.

headspace media contact: Jane Thomas - 0438 386 432 or jthomas@headspace.org.au

Notes to editors:

All stories about youth mental health should include youth-specific help-seeking information: headspace.org.au or 1800 650 890

About headspace

The primary focus of headspace is the mental health and wellbeing of young Australians. headspace helps 12 - 25 year olds going through a tough time through a national network of headspace centres and online and telephone counselling service eheadspace. headspace can help young people with general health, mental health, education and employment and alcohol and other drug services.

headspace was established and funded by the Commonwealth Government of Australia in 2006.

Visit headspace.org.au to find a headspace centre or access help.