How Do I Help My Teenager Who Doesn’t Want Help?
Your teenager appears to be depressed.
You’ve suggested it is time to get some help. What can you do if your teen refuses help?
A first step, Mom or Dad, is to realize this is more common than you’d think—a depressed teenager doesn’t often recognize that depression is the reason behind their feelings or actions.
Part of the disorder is not thinking clearly enough to realize what is actually happening.
If you are concerned that your teenager is battling depression but they are not interested in seeking help or are outright refusing it, there are steps you can take—gentle but firm encouragements—to persuade them to get the help they need.
Open Lines of Communication
Talking openly and honestly with your teenager is the first step.
Speak in specific terms about signs you are seeing in them which may be symptoms of depression.
Discuss how depression, if left untreated, can negatively impact his or her life.
Reassure your teen that it is out of love and concern that you are addressing this. Be compassionate and caring. Listen. Empathize with your teenager.
Research reveals one of the biggest obstacles for teenagers to overcome in seeking treatment is fear and embarrassment over what family and friends will think of their need for mental health treatment. Communicating with your teen openly about depression is one way to help overcome this fear and stigma.
Once you’ve lovingly expressed your concern, encourage your teenager to seek the help they need.
Reassure them that depression is a common medical condition, and nothing they should be ashamed about.
Remind your son or daughter about all the wonderful qualities they possess, and encourage them that better understanding their medical condition and seeking help will help these positive qualities to flourish—that their future is very bright!
Acknowledge for your teenager that their decision to seek help takes courage, and let them know you are proud of them for each step they are taking.
You might even consider rewarding them for each step.
Support Your Teenager in the Treatment Process
Give your teen unwavering support.
Constantly remind them that you are in this with them for the long-haul: whatever it takes, for as long as is needed.
Remind them often, “I love you” and “I’m here for you.”
As depression can impact a teenager’s relationships with others, invite your son or daughter to participate in family and social events. Offer for your teen to spend time with you in the course of the day, demonstrating that you not only care, but that you desire to be around them.
Assist Your Teenager in Finding Help
All indications are—as you’ve found your way to this site and post—you desire to help your teen find the right providers to get the help they need.
Start by offering and encouraging to expand your conversations to include a doctor or counselor.
Offer to help your teen compose a list of questions they might ask a professional about depression and their specific symptoms.
Reassure your teen that they do not have to continue to suffer alone—help is available, and treatment can be effective.
Eyes on the Prize
A healthier and happier future for your child is in view.
Don’t lose sight of your role as a parent: helping your teenager find the inner strength and resources to take the first step in seeking help.
Don’t allow yourself to become discouraged.
Don’t give up.
Your teenager is worth it!