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Getting help with depression in teens & young adults

This page has links to information in Māori.



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's a concern you might be at risk, for instance of suicide or serious harm. They will also strongly recommend that you have a support person at appointments, since when you're unwell you need support and it's useful to have another set of ears to hear what help is suggested. It's best to discuss the issue of who you want to know and what you want them to know openly at your first appointment.

There are several effective treatment options for depression. For young people, these are mainly talking therapies and lifestyle changes. Medications aren't usually used to treat young people but may be added if their depression doesn't respond to other treatments. Your GP will talk to you about which options are best for you or your child.

Online therapy

Consider doing an online course about depression. These courses can help you understand your illness and motivate you with goals. They're useful for everyone, especially if you live in a rural area or if transport is a problem.

Talk therapy (psychological treatments)

Talking therapies help with depression in all age groups. They help you find new ways to think about events in your life and are very effective at treating depression.

A psychologist or counsellor, BIS worker or Community Youth Mental Health service can provide talking therapy and emotional support.

Your GP can help you find a therapist or refer you for some free counselling. You can find counsellors, therapists, and psychiatrists in the Family Services Directory, or the Mental Health Education and Resource Centre (MHERC) can help. Some therapy options will cost, but your GP can talk through the approximate cost with you.


If other therapies aren't working, your doctor may give you antidepressant medications.

Antidepressants need to be carefully monitored in young people as they can cause depression to get worse, especially when first started.

You can read more about medications on Health Navigator's Antidepressants page.

Specialist therapists

The Canterbury DHB Child, Adolescent and Family Community Services is a specialist service for 13- to 18-year-olds (or older if still at school) with moderate to severe mental illness, and their whānau/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.

Community support

Manu Ka Rere

Manu Ka Rere (formerly CYMHS) is free for rangatahi (young people) aged 13 to 24 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 rangatahi and their whānau (families) to get longer term treatment if needed. Rangatahi can refer themselves to the service. A general practice team, counsellor, teacher or parent can also refer them.

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's like to struggle with mental illness are trained to support young people who are going through mental distress. Phone (03) 365-9479 or contact them by email.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed April 2020. Page updated August 2021.

Page reference: 49631

Review key: HIDPY-49622