by Experts in Mental Wellbeing research and evaluation at VicHealth Last updated: 28 Jan, 2020

We all want our kids to enjoy mental health, but with so many external influences at play it can be difficult to know what you can do to ensure your kids can navigate their way through it all, bounce back from the challenges of life and thrive.

Considering one in four people aged 12-25 have a mental illness, more parents are asking how they can help their kids.

We all want our kids to enjoy mental health, but with so many external influences at play it can be difficult to know what you can do to ensure your kids can navigate their way through it all, bounce back from the challenges of life and thrive.

From the the schoolground to social media and everything in between, building mental health stems from finding meaningful activities and relationships. And you can help your child do this by encouraging them to get involved in different activities until they find something they like.

At the same time, making sure your child has emotional support at home can help them  to develop good communication skills and resilience outside the home.

Below are some tips for parents looking for specific actions they can take to help improve their child’s mental health.

How to help kids improve their mental health

  1. Be there to listen. Kids and young people may not want to talk about their feelings all the time, but being there when they want to speak is important.

  2. Eat family meals together. Regular, structured and shared experiences strengthen a sense of belonging and security.

  3. Monitor their social media use.

  4. Ensure that they’re getting enough sleep.

  5. Set a good example through behaviour that shows your kids you place a high value on trust and fairness.

  6. Encourage your children to get active and involved in activities with others. It will help to improve their confidence, self esteem and overall mood. Sign them up to a sport or arts and cultural activity so they can meet new people and feel a sense of belonging.

  7. Consider getting a pet. Pets have been shown to reduce loneliness and improve mental health.

  8. Encourage volunteering in your local community. They will meet new people and feel part of a community while working towards a shared goal.

What can parents do if they think their child is struggling with their mental health?

  1. Talk to your doctor.

  2. Get support from these organisations:

    • Beyondblue provides valuable information for your child and your family about depression and anxiety.
    • Gather My Crew is a free, online rostering tool for the family, friends and community members connected to someone who needs support.

    • Headspace works with young people to provide support to get them back on track and strengthen their ability to manage their mental health. Services can be accessed in 100+ national Headspace centres, online or through clinical programs across the country.

    • Lifeline is a national charity providing all Australians experiencing a personal crisis with access to 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention services. You can call their 24-hour crisis line 13 11 14 to confidentially chat to trained Telephone Crisis Supporters

    • Kids Helpline has information and counselling for children, teenagers, young adults, parents and schools