It’s important to get help when you need it

If you need to talk to someone, call Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800, at any time on any phone for free.

Sometimes people feel awkward or nervous about asking for help, but it’s worth it if it means less stress for you and your family.

Which of these sounds like you?

You can view this video (‘looking after you’) which covers some important things you need to know and things that can help you to feel better.

In the dark about what’s happening with your parent? Wondering what’s wrong? Worried it could be partly your fault?

  • You need information – if your parent is unwell, it’s never your fault. Try to talk with your parent or find another adult you can trust (like a family friend, sports coach or teacher).
  • Tell your parent that you need to be included so that you understand what’s happening in your family. Find out all about mental illness on this website. Here’s some other reliable websites which are good to explore so that you can better understand mental illness and your mum or dad:
    • SANE Australia – great factsheets and podcasts for you to learn from.
    • Headspace – The national youth mental health foundation who help young people who are going through a tough time.
    • Youth beyondblue – Information about depression and anxiety for young people.
    • Reachout – Packed with loads of facts and info, stories, videos, blogs and forums to help you deal with whatever you’re going through.
    • Kids Helpline – Includes web and email counselling, games, downloads, information.

Feeling like nobody else understands what it’s like to have a parent with a mental illness?

You might decide to tell your friends how you’re feeling. Maybe they don’t have the same experiences, but they can still listen and support you.

  • If you’d rather talk to someone anonymous you could call Kids Helpline for free – on 1800 551 800.
  • Other people you can talk to are a doctor/GP, school counselor, a youth worker, social worker or psychologist.
  • You can also do online or email counseling through eHeadspace or Kids Helpline.

You might like to get together with other young people with similar experiences. Other young people have said they felt less alone when they talked to someone else whose family is like theirs. Read about young carers here.

Feeling stressed or sad most the time? Angry or anxious, not sleeping well or sleeping too much? Feeling very negative and wondering if you have the symptoms of mental illness too?

  • You need to talk to someone who can help you to feel better. This might be your parent, a teacher, a school counsellor or another trusted adult. You could also talk to your doctor, psychologist, visit your local headspace centre or call Kids Helpline.
  • It’s always best to seek help early if you’re worried about your own mental health. Check out headspace or take a look at Youth beyondblue for more information.

Doing a lot around the house or helping with your brothers and sisters plus your parent? It sometimes feels like you’re the adult!

  • Talk to your parent about how much you’re doing to help out. They might not realise you’re carrying such a heavy load.
  • If you do have a role in caring for your parent, you may be eligible for young carer services including practical assistance and respite. See the young carer website for your state.

Getting behind at school, no time to do your homework and finding it hard to concentrate or get enough sleep?

  • It can be hard to tell your school about your parent, but there are lots of ways your school could help you if you let them. E.g. you could get extensions on assignments or extra access to computers or learning materials.
  • Your information will be kept private unless there are concerns for your safety.

Mum or Dad is unwell, staying in bed a lot, doesn’t want to talk with you, or is doing things that are odd or scary?

  • If you’re worried or alone, or if your mum or dad isn’t well enough to take care of you or your siblings, then you need to call an adult to come and help you. That could be your parent’s doctor, a relative or family friend. You can always call Kids Helpline to talk about what support you could get.

Girl talking to someone

What happens when you talk to a counsellor?

A counsellor is a person who has been professionally trained to talk to people about different types of problems.

  • They work in all kinds of organisations (like schools, universities, health centres and workplaces).
  • Your conversations with counsellors are private.
  • They are there to listen to what’s on your mind and not to judge you.
  • They’ll talk to you about how you’re feeling and coping with things and ask you questions to help you to find solutions to your problems or suggest other things that might help.
  • Rememeber that counsellors are used to hearing from people in similar situations to you! You can speak to one at Kids Helpline at any time.

Finding the right words

  • It can be hard to know how to start a conversation or to ask for help, particularly if you’re feeling overwhelmed or sharing your thoughts is new for you.
  • Lots of young people feel shy or ashamed. The first thing to remember is that you are not betraying your parent if you ask for help and you have nothing to be ashamed about.
  • Consider starting with a small statement, like these below:

‘My Mum/Dad has a mental illness and I’ve been finding things really hard. I was wondering if we could talk about it because I think I need some help.’ 

Go on – give it a go talking to someone. It’s worth it!

Download Free COPMI Resources

For use by families where a parent has a mental illness, their supporters, and services who work with them.