Depression – for young people

What to do if you or a friend is depressed

Key points about what to do if you or a friend is depressed

  • If you have signs of depression, it’s important that you get help – the earlier you get help, the easier it is to get over your depression.
  • There are trained people who will be supportive of you and who know how to help you.
  • Depression is common and most people who get it recover well.
  • The key thing is to talk to someone, so you can get help – talk to your parents, a teacher or a friend or try any of the helplines on this page.
  • There are things you can do yourself as well, such as online tools and lifestyle changes.
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  • Talk to someone even though the feelings that are part of depression can make it hard to talk about it, such as feeling that you are no good or being scared that you are going mad. But these thoughts are just part of depression, so don’t listen to them, and instead tell someone how you are feeling. There are people who can help you get through it.
  • Lifestyle improvements can help your mood a lot. Focus on having a healthy lifestyle: healthy eatingphysical activity and plenty of sleep
  • Limit how much time you spend online and on screens and instead spend more time outside/in nature – this has been shown to help beat depression.
  • If you drink alcohol or take recreational drugs, stop using them as they make you more depressed. Find out more about alcohol and mental health.
  • Check out The Lowdown(external link)SPARX(external link)What’s Up(external link) and depression apps and e-learning, as well as depression support and resources below.
  • Get involved in something that feels meaningful to you, whether it’s through your school, a sport, your church or your marae, or a community project.

Find out more about living well with depression.

Sketch demonstrating 5 ways to wellbeing

Image credit: Sketchplanations.com(external link)

  • If you are concerned about a friend, ask them about it. Get some ideas about how to do that at Seize the Awkward(external link).
  • If your friend is depressed, encourage them to tell an adult such as a parent, teacher or school counsellor, or to contact one of the helplines on this page.
  • Don't carry your concerns alone: tell an adult if you are worried about a friend, such as a parent, teacher, school counsellor, or you can call one of the helplines too to talk about a friend.

Understanding Depression and Low Mood in Young People(external link) A free course by Future Learn. The course has been specifically created for parents of young people with depression and low mood, teachers and primary (or other) healthcare professionals who play a role in detecting mental health difficulties and offering appropriate support and guidance to young people.

Depression support Healthify NZ
Depression apps Healthify NZ
Find out how to tell if someone is struggling with their mental health(external link) BBC, UK, 2021

Self-care ideas(external link) Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, UK
Online NZ support to strengthen wellbeing Ignite(external link), NZ
Aroā Wellbeing(external link) Te Aka Whai Ora, NZ, 2023
An online resource and activities library developed by rangatahi Māori, for rangatahi Māori, to support young people to improve their oranga wellbeing

Helplines and local mental health services(external link) Mental Health Foundation, NZ, 2022

Resources

Video: The Lowdown

The Lowdown(external link) is a website to help young New Zealanders recognise and understand depression or anxiety. However you may be feeling, The Lowdown is full of ideas and people who can help you get unstuck and get to a better place.

It can help you find the way to start a conversation with your family/whānau and friends about issues you are facing and help reduce the impact of depression and anxiety in your life. This video may take a few moments to load.

(The Lowdown, NZ, 2017)

SPARX

SPARX was developed with the help of young people and is based on a type of talking therapy called cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). You can do CBT with a counsellor or a psychologist but you can also learn CBT skills from a computer programme like SPARX.

What makes computerised CBT like SPARX unique is that you can do it on your own, at your own pace, whenever and wherever it suits you – all you need is a computer with access to the internet.

A message from Stan Walker

Stan Walker shares why he is supporting SPARX. Stan has made his single 'Bully' available to be used to promote SPARX.

Video: Feeling down, worried or stressed? Take control with SPARX!

This video may take a few moments to load.

(SPARX, NZ, 2014)

What is SPARX and how does it work?

In this video, the people behind SPARX give an overview of what SPARX is, how it works and how it was created. Hear from the University of Auckland research team led by Dr Sally Merry who developed SPARX, as well as from young people who have tried the programme. Also, hear what Sir John Kirwan thinks about SPARX.

Video: Feeling down, worried or stressed? Take control with SPARX!

This video may take a few moments to load.

(SPARX, NZ, 2014)

Video: Feeling down, worried or stressed? Take control with SPARX!

SPARX is an online programme designed to help young people cope with feeling down, worried or stressed. SPARX can help you cope with those thoughts and feelings keeping you down. This video may take a few moments to load.

(SPARX, NZ, 2014)

SPARX can help a young person in your family/whānau or care

Video: SPARX - information for whanau and friends

This video gives a short overview of how SPARX can help a young person in your family/whānau or care. This may take a few moments to load.

(SPARX, NZ, 2014)

Read more about SPARX(external link)

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Credits: Healthify editorial team. Healthify is brought to you by Health Navigator Charitable Trust.

Reviewed by: Dr David Chinn, child and adolescent psychiatrist; Tania Stanton, clinical psychologist; and Rewa Murphy, clinical psychologist

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