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HealthInfo Canterbury

Living with depression for youth

Read this page for recommended advice and support information for people diagnosed with depression.

On this page

What can I do?

Getting help for a friend or family member

Looking after a young person with depression

Who can help?

What can I do?

There are lots of things you can do to get better. It can be hard to ask for help but keeping it to yourself can only make it worse. Like any illness the sooner you get help, the sooner you will get better.

Start by talking to someone who you know cares about you and who you can trust. For example, a parent, school counsellor, doctor, friend, teacher, or family member.

Other things you can do:

Getting help for a friend or family member

If you are worried about a friend or family member, the first step is to get them to see their general practitioner. Other good sources might be the school counsellor or a trusted family member. They may be able to help you get the person you are concerned about to their general practitioner.

Sometimes a person may not want to seek help. In that case it is important to say you care and are concerned. Provide them with some of the information to read from this website, including telephone counselling services.

If you are worried that the person may attempt suicide, seek immediate help for them, even if it's against that person's wishes. When a young person's life is at risk you do NOT have to be concerned about their wishes or privacy.

Some young people with depression have developed this in a family where there are other mental health issues. They may have a parent who struggles with mental illness or addiction, and this may contribute to their depression. There are supports and resources for children and young people in this situation, to help them understand their parents' mental illness or addiction.

Looking after a young person with depression

When young people have depression they aren't always able to ask for help and may even refuse help at times that you can see they need it.

It is important that you:

Links for parents and caregivers

Who can help?


Young people are often concerned about keeping things private. Professionals such as your school counsellor, family doctor, and so on, must, by law, respect your wish for confidentiality except where there is a concern you might be at risk, for instance of suicide or serious harm. They would also strongly recommend that you have a support person at appointments as when you are unwell you need support and it is useful to have another set of ears to hear what help is suggested. It is best to discuss the issue of who you want to know what openly at your first appointment.

The following people and organisations may be involved in your (or a family member's or friend's) healthcare.

General practice team

If you need to find a GP, you can search on this map.

Community support groups

MHERC can help you with contacting support groups in your area.

Counsellor or therapist

You can find a counsellor, therapist or psychiatrist in the Family Services Directory.

Community Youth Mental Health Service (CYMHS)

CYMHS is free for youths aged 13 to 18 who may have mental health or alcohol and drug issues. The service provides short-term intervention, which includes assessment, treatment and support. It also coordinates and supports youth and their families or referrer to get longer term treatment if needed. Young people can refer themselves to the service. A GP, counsellor, teacher or parent can also refer them. This can be by phone or using the online referral form. CYMHS can also provide information about other services and treatment available in the community.

Mental Health Education and Resource Centre (MHERC)

The Canterbury Mental Health Education and Resource Centre Trust (MHERC) provides information, education, and support within the Canterbury region to people with mental health and addiction issues, families/whānau, caregivers, and associates, agencies, and the community.

Mental Health Advocacy and Peer Support (MHAPS)

MHAPS provides a service called ps.Youth that offers free one-on-one peer support for teenagers with mental illness. Youthful peer support workers who understand what it is like to struggle with mental illness are trained to support young people who are going through mental distress. Phone (03) 365-9479.

Canterbury DHB Specialist Mental Health Services

The Specialist Mental Health Service, a division of the Canterbury District Health Board is the major provider of mental health services in the Canterbury region. Read more...

Child, Adolescent & Family Service

This is a specialist service for 13- to 18-year-olds (or older if still at school) with moderate to severe mental illness, and their families. Consultation services are provided for primary care, education and welfare services, and other community agencies that work with youth. The service can also access the Youth Day Programme, Youth Inpatient Unit and a respite facility. Read more about Canterbury DHB Child, Adolescent & Family Community Mental Health Services.

On the next page: Treatments for depression in children and young people

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed July 2016. Last updated June 2019.

See also:

Reading in Mind book scheme

Page reference: 49624

Review key: HIDPY-49622