28 Grams of Prevention

We’re all aware that young people experience high levels of depression and anxiety. Hopefully we also are aware that these problems are treatable, if not always easily cured.
But how can these problems be prevented, or at least ‘headed off at the pass’ before they take hold? There are some good answers to this question. There are things parents/carers can do, based on research evidence and clinical experience.
As an audit exercise, ask yourself: do I show my teenager affection? Make time to talk? Know how to talk about strong emotions and sensitive topics? Avoid over-involvement and encourage autonomy? Establish clear rules and consequences? Minimise conflict with my teenager and with my partner? Avoid repeated personal criticism? Perform daily miracles? (That last one is your reward for reading this far!)
And that’s just the half of it! All this and more is handily summarised in a document developed at Melbourne University where a few brief pages outline what you need to know.
To take one example: helping your teenager deal with problems.

- Ask them what they need from you; e.g. whether they just want you to listen or to offer advice. (Making time to talk). 
- Give your teenager time to talk through the problem before offering to discuss solutions. Do not try to solve all their problems for them. (Being involved but encouraging autonomy!).
- Help them break down potential challenges into smaller steps that are manageable. (Modelling how to solve a problem).
- Encourage your teenager to consider the effects of their actions on other people. (Thinking of consequences).
- Encourage your teenager by reminding them of times in the past when they have dealt well with problems. (Showing you believe in them).
- Praise your teenager when they deal well with problems. (Showing affection).
Recognise and encourage their problem-solving efforts, rather than focusing only on the outcomes. (Avoiding criticism).
Free bonus gift for you at no cost!!! Go to the website and you can take up this offer:
We are trialling a new online parenting program that personalises the guidelines for parents. If you have a child aged 12 to 15, live in Australia, and would like to participate in a study where you receive a personalised parenting program for free, click ‘Yes’.
Reference: Parenting Strategies Program (2013). How to prevent depression and clinical anxiety in your teenager: Strategies for parents. Melbourne: beyondblue.
Information about counselling both in and out of school is on this website under Learning & Teaching (scroll down).
Martin Graham
School Counsellor