Friend is Severely Depressed.
I have a friend who lives in Adelaide. I live in Melbourne. My friend and I are in the same year level, year 10 and 15. I have known she has been feeling down lately for a little while, since March, and she has explained to me that she has lost motivation for most things and struggles to be happy. She also tells me she's been late to school almost everyday, most of the time because of her crying. Allison tries to get help like asking her parents for a therapist/ psychologist, but they refuse to.
I'm just wondering what type of help that I can provide for Allison, or what help she can get from others. Any help or guidance of what I should tell her, or help her with. I'm very stuck and confused myself.
It can become difficult to know how to help a friend when she is feeling sad and crying; especially when her parents don't seem to be interested in taking her to see a mental health specialist. We are pleased that you found the strength to post about your concerns for her on our forums.
We would encourage you to suggest to Allison that she might talk to her school counsellor or her teacher. She can ask the guidance counsellor if they would be willing to keep the conversation private if Allison is worried about her parents finding out that she has gone to the guidance counsellor.
If she doesn't wish to talk to someone at school, she could call:
Kids Helpline (for ages between 5 and 25) 1800 551 800
BeyondBlue Support Service 1300 22 4636
Lifeline 13 1114
We would also like to encourage you to to contact any of the above services if you are feeling stressed or confused from helping Allison.
Pleas feel free to let us know how things go.
I just want to echo what Sophie_M has said. The services she recomends are excellent: I have called BB and Lifeline many times myself and always found them helpful. Also, Sophie_M's advice about speaking to a teacher and/or school counsellor is very good - I did this myself when I was in high-school. I also spoke to parents of close friends that I knew well and trusted, as I was also unwilling to share too much with my parents. Eventually a friend's mum helped me connect with a GP who was also a psychiatrist, and I learned a lot about mental health from this GP.
Some other information you might like to share with Allison, which might help her when discussing the issue with her parents, is that most people experiencing poor mental health in Australia can now access free sessions with a psychologist or social worker of their choice. All Allison needs to do is speak with her GP, who can assess her symptoms, and if they are significant, can provide referrals for up to 20 free sessions per year with a psychologist or social worker. I have seen psychologists myself for dozens and dozens of sessions over the years, and never had to pay anything. This program is called the "Better Access initiative", which Allison and/or her parents can read about on the government's website (https://www.health.gov.au/initiatives-and-programs/better-access-initiative). This may alleviate Allison's parents financial concerns regarding Allison seeing a psychologist.
Another point you could raise with Allison is that everything you talk about with a psychologist (and just the fact of seeing one) is completely confidential, and protected by strict privacy laws. It's not accessible to employers, Universities or anyone else outside your treating health team. For instance, I have studied and worked at many top Australian Uni's and companies, and (to the best of my knowledge), nothing in my mental health record has negatively affected me in any way. This might be another fear of Allison's parents.
As Sophie_M says, please feel free to let us know how things go. Wishing you all the best.
Sorry to hear about what you and your friend, Allison, have been going through. You seem like a very loving soul and it's so great that you've posted here for advice.
As Sophie and yggdrasil mentioned, I think the best point of call would be to advise Allison to contact the school counsellor about what she's going through. If you're comfortable I might suggest you also seek support if you feel that the confusion and uncertainty is also affecting you and your daily life. It can be difficult when we see loved ones suffering especially if you're a caring person like yourself. There are also some great resources here online for both you and Allison that might give you more insight into what might be happening. You can find some info under the following tab: Home>Get support>Treatment options>Other sources of support. Another good page is the 'young people' section under the 'resource library'. Lastly, for yourself, I might suggest heading to Home>The facts>Supporting someone>Looking after yourself.
Additionally, another alternative that Allison might like to try if she wants support outside of the school counsellor and can't see the GP is your local headspace centre. headspace is a free drop in clinic for 12 - 25 year olds that supports young people with physical health, mental health, drug/alcohol use and work/study support. All you need is a medicare card to access headspace and you can see both a GP as well as a mental health worker. They also provide online resources and online/phone support. I'd recommend checking out their website and you find a local centre here: https://headspace.org.au/headspace-centres/
Take care and feel free to update us here. 🙂
Welcome to the Beyond Blue forums and thank you for being so open here. It sounds like your friend is currently going through a tough time. It is great that you care for them so much.
You are feeling bad for her and really want to do something to help her. As Sophie said, the Kids helpline is a really excellent counselling service for free, she can access many sources. Headspace is also a great platform that provides information on feeling down and depressed.
Stay safe and i am always here to chat.
Hello Sophie, (and others)
I have identified Allison's choices in getting help. Kid's Helpline, school counsellor, her psychologist and getting onto beyond blue herself; she refuses. I really feel that I'm powerless and that I'm only acting as a vent/scapegoat to Allison's problems and that she doesn't really want to get help for herself.
I'm very stuck and don't know the next step. What could I tell her to encourage her?
Hi again Zed0,
Thank you for the update and it is great to know that you had a chat with Allison about her options. I can understand how you feel when you can't encourage your friend to seek professional support. I have been in a similar situations. Unfortunatley, aside from giving support and information (which you have) and encouraging professional support (which you have) there is not all too much left to do. It is ultimately up to Allison to take on professional support as if she does so reluctantly she will not gain too much from the clinicians.
Usually at this stage I would have a frank conversation with my friend, again saying that I'm not the best person to unpack their issues and that they would get alot more from a psychologist/school counsellor etc. I would also mention the toll that it is taking on your own mental health and that you are starting to feel like a scapegoat as you mentioned. Additionally, it can be sometimes be encouraging if you offer Allison to accompany her to professional services. E.g. going with her physically to the GP, school counsellor or local headspace. This might make the next step for her more comfortable.
Hope this helps. 🙂 Keep us updated.