For adolescents

  • What is good mental health and wellbeing?

    Good mental health and wellbeing means feeling happy and positive about yourself, enjoying life and maintaining a healthy relationship with family and friends. However, it is quite common to struggle with life issues from time to time, which will affect how you think, feel and behave. The sooner you sort out these issues, the quicker your life will get back on track.

    Our goal is to help you learn about each yourself, recover from any mental health difficulties or mental illness and to become the best you can be – to have great mental health and wellbeing!

    Check out how we can help you!

    Who can help me?

    There are lots of people who can help you when you need it. Some of them are your:

    • Your family
    • Teachers
    • Friends
    • Other adults you trust

    For urgent enquiries, please call 000 for an ambulance or go to your closest Emergency Department.

    As you get older, you may want to be more independent and sometimes you may want to find out information before you talk to someone you know about what's on your mind.

    When you need a little more help than that there are people who have special training to help young people when their mental health is not as good as it could be. These might be people at school (like school counsellors) or your doctor to start with. They might send you to see other people, like us at the RCH Mental Health or someone who has their own clinic (a private practitioner).

    Alternatively, if you can access the internet there are loads of places you can get good quality information from people who work in this area. They have lots of details about what you can do on your own to start feeling well as well as options to talk to trained staff on the phone or online (if you are allowed).

    There's nothing to be afraid of. It's really good to tell someone you how you are thinking and feeling and when you think it is time to get some extra help. The quicker you start, the faster you will feel better.

    Click here for other helpful community resources for adolescents

    What happens at the RCH Mental Health?

    When we first hear about you, it is usually by telephone from your parents or carer, a teacher (who has your parent's permission to talk to us) or letter from a doctor, teacher or school counsellor. Or you may have phoned us yourself. The person who contacts us is who we call 'the referrer'.

    You may have seen someone, like your local doctor (a GP) or school counsellor or spoken with your parent about not feeling right. Your referrer will have collected information about how you seem to them and we ask them to share this to work out how we can best help you. The information we collect about how you are is what we call 'a referral'. We have trained health professionals (clinicians) that think about all this information. They might have more questions before they make a decision about how we can help, so they may discuss you with the person making the referral and your parent/guardian (if these are different people). They might also want to talk to you too to get your perspective.

    Together, we will decide on what will help you best and who you should meet with. You will be told about any decision and guided towards any other useful information.

    If you are coming to the RCH Mental Health to see one of our trained people (we call them clinicians), typically, an appointment will be booked. You will be given the details of the time, date and place. Information will be sent to you to help you be organised before the first appointment in most cases. Or we might see you while you are at the hospital for other medical reasons.

    When you see us, you might meet with one or more of our clinicians. We will explain your rights as a 'consumer' of our service, so you know where you stand. They will talk with you and your family about what seems to be the matter and they will work with you to see how we can help. We do a lot of talking!!! You might be asked some more questions, or to do some other activities with the clinician. Sometimes these can be quite fun, like artwork, music or playing games. This helps us work out what you are good at as well as what's not going so well.

    Often we will write a report about why you have come to see us and what we think might be good things to do to recover. We will also make sure that you are safe and people know what to do while you are getting better. You may have some new things to practice, which can help too.

    You might see us more than once, but we will tell you. Sometimes our clinicians come to your school or visit you at home if you can't come to us. You might see us in different places, like the hospital or the clinic in the community. It just depends what you need.

    If you have any queries, you can always call our Mental Health Intake Team. Please see our contact page

    What if I have to go to hospital?

    If you have a serious mental illness and are really unwell, a doctor or clinician you are seeing will talk to you about having some time at hospital. Generally, this is because you can't get well at that moment in the community and you need some extra care, or tests, or medicines. Sometimes, when you start a new medication for mental illness you need to be carefully monitored to get the right dose and this is easiest or safest to do in hospital.

    We have a ward, called Banksia, which is just for young people aged 12 to 18 years old.

    You have rights when you are in hospital and it is important to know what these are. These will be explained to you if you have to go to hospital. But not everyone with a mental illness needs this.

    A recovery plan will be written with you and your family to make sure you and the Banksia Team know how best to help you get better, be ready to return home and get back to participating in school and living life to the full. Sometimes this plan will include more sessions with some of our clinicians and things to practice. We really want your wellbeing to return as quickly as possible.

    Tell us what you think!

    Why give feedback?

    We would like to hear about your experiences, good or bad. Your suggestions and comments will help us improve our service and the care we offer.

    Do I have to give my name?

    No, you don’t have to give your name if you feel uncomfortable with this. Keep in mind though that we can only get back to you about the matter if we have your contact details. Please be assured that your feedback will be kept confidential and it will not disadvantage you in any way.

    OK, so how do I go about giving feedback?

    Send us an email to MH.Complaints@rch.org.au  Please give as much detail as possible.
    You can also pick up a form in the waiting area or download form here.  Deposit the completed form in the feedback box at reception, or mail it to us.

    What happens next?

    We will evaluate your feedback, and if you have provided your contact details and would like a follow-up, we’ll get in touch with you. We will respond to complaints without delay and aim to resolve them within 30 days.

     What can I do if…?

    I feel worried, anxious or stressed

    I feel worried, anxious or stressed

    Feeling worried is also known as anxiety. It is an unpleasant feeling that most of us have when faced with something challenging. It is normal to feel physical reactions e.g. a faster heart rate, sweating, shaking, or "butterflies in your stomach." There are many reasons you might feel anxious. This can range from worrying about what others think of us, being excluded from a your friendship groups, being asked to talk in front of class, worrying about your hands being dirty all the time, or even just seeing a spider!

    Feeling anxious or worried can help us in certain situations such as preparing to perform at our best (e.g. playing sport), keeping us motivated (e.g. to study for a test), or keeping us safe (e.g. not standing too close to the edge of a train platform). However, if anxiety or worry gets to the point where it is extremely intense, long lasting, or interferes with your daily life it can become a problem. If this is the case learning to manage the anxiety may be helpful.

    A family member, teacher or other person you trust can help you not to worry. Tips that are helpful for everyone include:

    • Talking about your worries/fears with someone you trust
    • Taking deep breaths or using gentle exercises to calm your body and thoughts
    • Listening to music, being occupied with things that take your mind off your worries
    • Become brave by trying something new and get better with more practice!

    It is important to get help, and sometimes that means meeting and talking with a mental health clinician to work out what to do.

    Click here for other helpful community resources for adolescents

    I feel sad or depressed

    I feel sad or depressed

    Everyone feels sad or "down" at times. It is one of our human emotions. You might feel sad when you have lost something important, are hurt, or during a sad movie. Some people have strong feelings of being down that may bother them for a much longer time.

    Feeling sad is different to being depressed. Depression is a serious condition which makes coping with day-to-day life hard and leaves you feeling down most of the time. It may include feeling irritable or stressed, getting more angry than usual, feeling worthless or guilty, having sleep problems, not enjoying things you used to, or changes in your appetite.

    If you are experiencing these things most of the time and it gets to the point where it is affecting your schooling, friendships, or family relationships you may want to seek some assistance. A good place to start would be to discuss it with someone you trust such as a family member, friend, school counsellor, or health professional. These people may help you develop ways to cope more effectively, or help you find further assistance in coping with these feelings.

    It is important to get help, and sometimes that means meeting and talking with a mental health clinician to work out what to do.

    Click here for other helpful community resources for adolescents

    I feel angry

    I feel angry

    Feeling angry is a normal human emotion. It tells us when something is not fair, or that someone has done something wrong. Whatever the reason for you feeling angry, there is nothing wrong with feeling angry. What is important is how you cope with, and express, angry feelings in an appropriate way. Anger that is not managed effectively can have an impact on your relationships, as well as your physical and emotional health.

    If use in a positive way, anger can motivate people to change things they don't like about their life, or the world. Useful ways to positively manage your anger can be developed with the assistance of others (e.g. teacher, parent, counsellor) by problem solving what makes a difference. Common strategies include:

    • breathing deeply
    • taking time out
    • distracting yourself

    We know that anger can be unhelpful if expressed through violence, or by withdrawing, and can result in hurting yourself or others. If you are finding it hard to control your anger, if you feel angry all the time, or are reacting violently it is important to seek help. When this is happening, it is important to get help, and sometimes that means meeting and talking with a mental health clinician to work out what to do.

    Click here for other helpful community resources for adolescents

    I'm unhappy at school

    I'm unhappy at school

    Young people's experience of attending school is often mixed. At times it can be very enjoyable and at others it can be extremely hard. Those finding the experience difficult may have problems with their peers such as bullying, being excluded from social groups, having regular arguments or fights, or just feeling like they do not fit in. They may also find the school work challenging and not feel supported by the teachers, or even feel picked on by teachers and other staff. Things that are happening at home, or with other young people in or outside of school or online may also be a worry and effect your school work and wellbeing.

    Most young people attending school will have faced these kinds of problems at one time or another. If it is getting to the point where you are avoiding school, pretending to be sick so you don't have to go, or getting very worried about attending all the time you may benefit from doing something about it. A good place to start would be to discuss it with someone you trust such as a family member, friend, school counsellor, or health professional. These people may be able to help you develop ways to cope more effectively with school, or they could help you find further assistance in managing your difficulties.

    It is important to get help and sometimes that means meeting and talking with a mental health clinician to work out what to do.

    Click here for other helpful community resources for adolescents

    I don't want to eat

    I don't want to eat

    Many young people have worries about eating and their bodies. It can be useful to consider what is normal eating and what your attitude is towards food. If you can eat without feeling guilty, eat when you feel hungry and can stop when full, you most likely have a normal attitude to food. Most people eat different amounts of food on different days, eat more foods you like on some days, and overeat or limit how much you eat or drink sometimes. Dieting is also common, though not the best way to maintain a healthy weight. Most of us who worry about what they eat and the shape of their body do not go on to develop an eating disorder.

    Eating that is unusual is not so much about whether you skip meals, limit food intake, or overeat; it is more about your thinking behind your eating behaviour, how frequently it occurs, and feeling as though you have to eat this way.

    Developing an eating disorder is more common in girls and women (but can also occur in boys and men) and can seriously affect your health and wellbeing. Though not a comprehensive list some common signs of an eating disorder include:

    • excessive dieting or eating
    • avoiding social situations that involve food
    • wearing loose fitting clothing to hide weight loss
    • excessive exercise
    • wanting to eat alone
    • vomiting after eating
    • constantly checking your weight.

    If you are finding yourself doing these things it is important to get help. See your local doctor first. A mental health clinician (a trained person) can also help. We have a team of them here that work with young people with a serious eating disorder. Young people with eating disorders can get better with help.

    Click here for other helpful community resources for adolescents

    I feel like hurting myself

    I feel like hurting myself

    This type of behaviour can be very hard to deal with for you or the people around you. There are urges that may be difficult to control, but the sense that this 'feels helpful'. Many people self-harm in secret because they don't want to upset others or feel ashamed.

    There are various reasons why you, or someone you know, may self-harm. Self-harm is different from suicide. It involves deliberately hurting your body without necessarily wanting to die. It is not always easy to put into words what the reasons for self-harming are, but it may be a way of coping with emotional pain or stress, a way of telling other people that you are distressed and asking for help, or can be a symptom of a disorder such as depression. Hurting yourself can include cutting a part of your body (often the arms, legs or body), burning your skin, banging your head, or taking overdoses of legal or illegal drugs.

    Seeking help early if you are self-harming is really important. Telling an adult you trust such as a family member, friend, teacher, or health professional who can keep you safe and get medical assistance for you if required is a good first step. The next step is finding a health professional to help you find safer ways of coping when you have urges to self-harm.

    Sometimes self-harming can suggest you are thinking about suicide. Having thoughts of committing suicide does not mean you will take action to attempt suicide. However, if you have a plan about how you would commit suicide, and intend on complete the plan it is crucial you tell someone.

    If you don't think you can speak to someone who already knows you, you can talk to an independent professional. These are three good places to start (among others).

    Kids Help
    T: 1800 551 800 (free call; free 24 hour advice line)
    or look up their website.

    Suicide Call Back Service
    T: 1300 659 467 (local call; free 24 hour advice line)
    or their webpage has details about their online or email counselling service too.

    Suicide Line
    T: 1300 651 251 (local call; free 24 hour advice line)
    or their webpage has details.

    It is important to get help, and that can mean meeting and talking with a mental health clinician to work out what to do.

    Click here for other helpful community resources for adolescents

    I'm worried about a friend or parent

    I'm worried about a friend or parent

    A lot of people worry about a friend or family member. That's quite normal.

    If you are worried about somebody you could talk it over with someone you trust like a family member, friend, teacher, coach, or school counsellor.

    The main thing is to think carefully about what may help them. Don't make a quick decision unless they are really in danger. The important part of helping someone else is for that person to know you are there to offer support and that they can get better with help.

    If you think that talking to the person you are worried about is the best thing, you don't have to do this on your own if you don't want to. Ask for someone you trust to go with you. Sometimes all you need to do is let a trusted adult know and they will be the ones to take action. It's really helpful to share your views because you might notice something others haven't.

    You can also ring Kids Help (they have supports for teens) if you want to talk to someone that is completely separate from your family, friends or school to work out what to do or to talk about how it feels to be trying to support someone who isn't well.

    There are different services for adults and young people in Victoria.

    Click here for other helpful community resources for adolescents

    Community resources for children adolescents