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Important to connect with teens
Fiona Kalaf

It is important to pay attention to teenagers' invitations to help them, and these take many forms from subtle, such as withdrawing from social activities or from connecting with loved ones, to overt, such as saying something like "what's the point, anyway?"

Either way, these are invitations to engage with them - to ask them what's going on for them, to listen actively without judgment and to encourage the person to seek help.

The key to connecting with someone who is going through a difficult time is to let them be heard and understood.

It is estimated that about 75 per cent of all mental illnesses are formed before the age of 25, so it is important that teenagers are supported to seek professional help because early diagnosis is at the core of successful treatment.

Most mental illnesses are treatable and manageable with the right ongoing care.

Often the first step is to see a GP or to make contact with a crisis support service, which will assist in referring the teenager to appropriate ongoing help, if required.

We acknowledge the immense pressure that teenagers and their families go through when they are seeking help.

The festive season is often a complicated and challenging time. There is social, financial and emotional pressure to be seen to be having a good time and to be out socialising. However, if you have experienced a loss during the year, or had a difficult time at school, the festive season and New Year's rituals can bring those issues into higher relief, raising stress and anxiety levels to the point of emotional crisis.

Remember, no one needs to face their problems alone, so please reach out and encourage your loved ones to do the same.