Supporting children and young people

14 Feb

If you’re concerned that a child or young person you care about is experiencing anxiety or depression, or at risk of suicide, it’s important to let them know that you’re worried. Supporting your loved one and getting them to open up can be challenging. It's important to stay patient and listen.

Talking about thoughts and feelings can be difficult for young people – it doesn’t always come naturally. They might get angry when you ask if they’re ok, or they might shut down and say nothing. You might find it difficult to talk openly too. Approach these conversations with respect, thoughtfulness and try to avoid judgement. Let them know why you’re worried and what you’ve noticed. Encourage them to talk about how they are feeling and share any current things that might be stressing them out.

Regardless of where your loved one is at, all young people need to know that they are loved, respected and trusted. Anything you can do to reinforce this for them will be valuable.

“Professional help and a supportive environment were the main things in my recovery. I always had somebody to go to when things were bad or when I was feeling really down. I had people who were constantly checking up on me to see if I was okay.” Tianna, 19 

Talk about what’s going on

Let your young person know you’re concerned and want to help. Create an environment where they can open up, and make sure you give them space to talk. Don’t be afraid to ask about how they’re feeling and talk about what is going on. It can also help to find out more about anxiety and depression – either before you have the conversation, or by doing some research together.

" Look for small ways that you can make a positive difference and provide comfort and support, and keep doing them – in my case I realised that a simple back or foot massage before bedtime helps my daughter relax and go to sleep. It helps both of us to know that I can help in this way. "

Next steps

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