Understanding and Supporting Depression in Young People

 In Mental Health, YMHFA

It is one of the most common mental illnesses experienced among Australia’s young people, but how much do we really know about depression? Luckily for us there are many free resources that can inform us about the signs and symptoms of depression.

Mental Health Organisations in Australia

As part of the National Youth Mental Health Foundation, Headspace Australia is a dedicated organisation that aids and promotes understanding of mental illnesses in young people. The services provided by Headspace include physical centres, online and phone support. Centres provide relevant and appropriate referrals to professional support such as GPs, social workers and counselors. BeyondBlueis another such organisation, which also provides services to adults including families, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and senior citizens. The key areas that BeyondBlue specialise in are depression, suicide and anxiety. All of these organisations are an excellent place to begin learning about depression and strategies for supporting someone with depression.

Understanding and Dealing with Depression

Organisations such as Headspaceand BeyondBlueprovide excellent and comprehensive resources on the symptoms, risk factors and aid for people experiencing depression. For example, the following graphic from Headspace outlines the outward signs of depression, including irregular sleeping patterns, irritability, and social withdrawal:

As we can see in this graphic, depression is one of the most common mental illnesses experienced by young people. This means it is all the more important to be aware of how to support someone experiencing these symptoms. A helpful acronym provided by Headspace summarises some of the most effective strategies for dealing with depression, STEER:

Self care

Thinking Patterns

Expressing thoughts and feelings



Making time to practise self care is an important part of maintaining mental health. Encouraging loved ones to practise self care can be one way to approach someone who may be experiencing depressive symptoms. You can read more about the importance of self care on the Hero Town blog.

How to Help

We highly encourage anyone with a loved one who is experiencing signs or symptoms of depression to investigate the information provided by BeyondBlue and Headspace. The first step to helping is having a sound knowledge and understanding of what the person is going through, and the most relevant services to aid them. Beyondblue has a list of the different types of professional services that a young person can turn to if they are experiencing depression.

If the young person in your life is not ready to speak with a face-to-face counsellor, they may feel more comfortable with an online or phone service. Programs such as e-Couch, eheadspace and Head to Health are digital platforms designed to help young people with mental health concerns.

Finally, you can empower yourself to provide support for a young person experiencing mental health concerns by training in Youth Mental Health First Aid. By becoming a Mental Health First Aider, you can equip yourself to be ready when a young person in your life is experiencing the symptoms associated with depression. Find out more about Mental Health First Aid and register for our YMHFA training today.

Steph Downing
Stephanie Downing is the administrative assistant for Hero Town Geelong. Born and raised in Geelong, Australia, Stephanie is a graduate of Deakin University with her Honours degree in Professional and Creative Writing. She adores words of all sorts and is especially infatuated with the medium of poetry and fiction, with publications of her work being featured in magazines such as WORDLY Magazine, Plumwood Mountain Journal and Cordite Poetry Review.
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