Talking to an adult you trust

If you are facing a few problems, or feeling depressed or anxious, then talking to an adult you trust can really help.  You might choose to discuss things with your parents, sports coach, relative, school counsellor, or someone you know you can rely on. This page has hints and tips for planning the conversation, as well as some examples to help you think about what to say.


Why should I talk about it?

Talking about what's going on can help you to:

  • think about things differently
  • find solutions
  • get the support you need.

A lot of young people find talking about personal things a bit tricky at first, but don’t let any awkward feelings put you off. Push through and you might be surprised how things turn out – most people are supportive and understanding. Sometimes they might not be sure what help or advice to give, but by talking the situation through you can work out a plan together.

Planning the conversation

  • Think about who you want to tell and what you want to tell them. What you tell other people about how you feel is up to you.
  • Be honest and calm as you talk about how you feel. Only you know how you are feeling inside.
  • Explain what has been happening as best you can. Give examples of things that have been bothering you. Think about what they need to know to be able to help you.
  • If you’re worried about what to say, plan it in advance. Find a time when you’re not going to get interrupted – during a car ride, or maybe a walk.
  • Some young people find it useful to start by writing a note, SMS or email. As well as giving the person a heads up that you'd like to talk further, this means you can get all your thoughts down and shuffle them around if you need to.
  • Don’t feel you need to say everything in the first conversation. You will need to talk about this stuff more than once!
  • If they ask you “what’s wrong”, tell them what’s going on – avoid saying ”I’m ok” when you really aren’t.
  • If you don’t feel like talking, tell them that. Let them know you will talk to them about it when you can.

Describing how you're feeling

Giving examples can help the other person understand what you're going through. If you don't want to talk about your feelings, you could tell them about thoughts you're having or other stuff you're experiencing. This might include physical symptoms, such as being tired and run down all the time, or behavioural changes like losing interest in the things you used to enjoy.  


Make a plan about what to do next

Talk about what you think might be helpful. This includes what you need to do for yourself as well as how they can help. And importantly, let them know what you won’t find helpful, otherwise they can only guess and that might just be a whole lot more uncomfortable.

This is also be a good time to think about when you might want to talk about things more. Will you let them know when you want to talk again? Are you happy for them to approach you sometimes to check in? Talk this through with the person you have confided in so that they know what works for you. 

How other people might be able to help

There are lots of ways that people can help you. They can:

  • listen and remind you that they believe in you
  • talk through the situation with you and offer another way of looking at things
  • help you explore options for getting support
  • get you more involved in the things that you enjoy
  • help you in a practical ways – drive you to work, help you to organise your work and sporting commitments
  • teach you some relaxation techniques or take you to a yoga class
  • talk with you about your goals and support you to achieve them – step by step
  • touch base regularly to see how you're doing and if you need anything
  • remind you how to look after yourself – eating well, exercising and getting enough sleep.

What if it doesn't go as planned?

Sometimes, no matter how much thought or care you have put into the conversation, it doesn't go as you'd planned. You might feel like you've been misunderstood, patronised or not taken seriously. 

While this can be really disappointing, it's often about the other person, not you. Some people are unable to help because they find it hard to see past their own issues or they have trouble understanding a situation that they haven't experienced themselves.  

Don't give up or let a negative reaction put you off. Here are a few ways to approach this situation if it happens to you:

  • Don’t panic or worry about their response. Some people might need a bit of time to process what you've said. You might end the conversation by saying "If you have any ideas about what might help just let me know." This gives them a chance to come back to you, but also allows them to step out of the conversation if they don’t feel comfortable.
  • There is nothing stopping you from ending a conversation. If you feel like the conversation isn't being helpful then wrap it up. "Anyway, I'll let you get back to what you were doing. Thanks for your time..."
  • Consider how else that person might be able to help and support you. They may not be the one to confide in but they could help you with some practical things – like driving you to work, helping you with a project, or going out and having some fun with you.
  • Don’t let their response put you off getting help. How you feel and what you are experiencing are important, so find someone else to talk to.

Finding a health professional to talk to

Sometimes it can feel like there's no-one you can talk to, but it's important to remember that you have other options outside your family and friends.

General practitioners, psychologists, doctors, or religious or community leaders can offer support, care and encouragement, as well as connecting you with the help you need. If you want to talk to someone anonymously, the Beyond Blue Support Service is available 24/7.  

You can get support from health professionals without your parents'/guardians' permission. This does depend a little on your age, but in general if you are 14 years or older you can contact a psychologist or doctor without their knowledge or permission. Once you turn 15, you can get your own Medicare card. This means that your parents/guardians will not be able to track any services you use under Medicare.

If you see a health professional they will probably encourage you to involve your parents/guardians in some way – mostly so they can know how to support you. However, there will be times when involving your family is not helpful and the health professional will talk with you about this.

If you're unsure about how confidentially works with health professionals, talk about this when you first meet and ask them to explain your rights.

For more information about confidentiality and health professionals, check out page 32 of the Anxiety and depression in young people booklet.