I’ve seen a lot in the media about teenage depression lately and it has caused me to again think about this difficult issue.

Most of the stories, like this one in the Australian, ‘Depressed Children Not being Diagnosed‘ result from recent activity by BeyondBlue promoting their draft Clinical Practice Guidelines on Depression in Adolescents and Young Adults.

How can we help children and teenagers with depression?

I think there is some very good information in the guidelines but I wonder if the term ‘mental health’ is the most appropriate for this subject?

Would it help to shift the focus to ’emotional health’ by asking ‘what can we do help children and adolescents understand their emotions and the impact emotions have on behaviour?’

It is a difficult issue that affects a large percentage of our youth. Watch out for symptoms like:

  • Lack of interest in things such as school, hobbies and family.
  • Lack of self-esteem, with feelings such as ‘I’m a failure, no use to anyone’.
  • Irritability and bad temper.

There are some fantastic free online resources for people with symptoms of depression developed by the Australian National University in conjunction with other leading organizations in the field.

In particular I recommend you check out MoodGYM, which will help you learn cognitive behaviour therapy skills for preventing and coping with depression and e-couch, which provides evidence-based information about emotional problems (including depression and anxiety disorders) and teaches strategies that may help you to prevent problems and understand yourself better.