survey says mums the top source of emotional support for Australian young people

New research released on the eve of Mother’s Day from headspace National Youth Mental Health Foundation has revealed mums are the number one source of emotional support for Australian young people.

The headspace National Youth Mental Health Survey found that four in five (81%) young people aged 12-25 would seek support from their mothers if they were experiencing a personal or emotional problem.

Young people also told headspace they would approach friends (74%), intimate partners (73%), and fathers (60%) for support in tough times.

 headspace National Clinical Advisor, Deb Mountjoy says family is an integral part of a young person’s circle of care.

“We know that family are a key support group for a young person as they transition into adulthood.

“Today is an opportunity to acknowledge the work of mums – and of all family members – who support their young people to navigate tough times.

“It is really encouraging to see that so many young people would turn to their loved ones for support. “Often family members are the ones best placed to notice when their young person is having a hard time.

“We know it can be difficult for family and friends to talk about mental health. By being there for young people, listening to them without judgment and reminding them they are loved unconditionally, family can be instrumental in helping their young person get back on track.

“We want family members to know that they too can seek support when caring for a young person.

“Looking after yourself enables you to be in the right headspace to support your young person, and models for your young person how you manage life’s ups and downs.”

headspace National Family Reference Group member Michelle Jane, from Adelaide, has lived experience of supporting her children with their mental health.

“As a mother of four, I have been there for all the ups and downs in my children’s lives.

“It can feel overwhelming to learn your child is having a tough time, and at first it might be difficult to know what to do.

“I support my young people by listening to their story without making assumptions or jumping to conclusions, and telling them they’ve got the courage and the skills to get through challenging times.

“As a parent, it’s also great to educate yourself about mental health, and learn strategies that will help you support your young person in the best way possible.

“On the days when I am feeling burnt out, I have turned to others who understand my situation, who can give me the belief to keep going. A kind word or acknowledgement from someone who has gone through similar - most often another parent who is going through the same - made me feel more connected. The value of lived-experience and peer support should never be underestimated.”

“I also find staying active is really important for my mental health and helps me be in the best frame of mind to support my children.”

Read the full infographic on who young people turn to for emotional support.

For more information and resources for family and friends, or to join a group chat with other parents, visit or call 1800 650 890. You can also search for your nearest headspace centre online or contact Parent HelpLine.

Young people aged 12 to 25, as well as their family and friends can visit headspace for support. Help is also available via phone and online counselling service, eheadspace, seven days a week between 9am–1am (AEST). The number is 1800 650 890.

If you’re looking for someone to talk to immediately, Lifeline (13 11 14) and Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800) are available to talk 24/7.