Staff from the Mind-managed headspace services in Greensborough and Plenty Valley discuss depression, how to identify the warning signs and when to seek help. This project was conducted in partnership with The City of Whittlesea Youth Advisory Council.  

This article is an edited excerpt from a video interview.  

By Ursa Jensen and Alicia Hodgson. 

Ursa is a Community Engagement Team Leader with qualifications in counselling.   

Alicia is a Community Mental Health Practitioner – Counsellor.   

What is depression?  

Young people can tend to overuse the word ‘depression’ this can be because we lack definition around the word itself.  

Depression is different from sadness, which is a normal human emotion that we all have at varying times in our lives, such as when we feel rejected, disappointed or hopeless.   

Sadness is a passing feeling; it may feel all-encompassing at times but generally you are still able to have other feelings while you are sad – it passes with time.  

Depression is more than sadness – it's more intense. There are different emotions involved, such as hopelessness, despair and loneliness.   

Depression hangs around. It is long-term, it is ongoing and it can make it difficult for us to function and do everyday things.  

WATCH: Ursa and Alicia discuss depression 

What are signs of depression?  

Young people experiencing depression may present a range of symptoms, including:  

  • irritability  
  • mood swings  
  • changes in appetite and sleeping  
  • lack of motivation  
  • becoming disengaged   
  • or withdrawn or a loss of interest in activities.   

They might experience an ongoing sensation that they are not enjoying the things they once did, and they may start questioning themselves.     

Why are young people experiencing depression less likely to seek help?  

There is still stigma around mental health and how it is seen to be weak to seek support, especially for young men or people from minority groups.  

From a cultural perspective, a lot of cultures don’t have a word for mental health, anxiety or depression.   

So, trying to work around that, understand what it is their culture has taught them growing up and get that help and support for themselves can be a hurdle.  

When should I seek help and what support services are available?  

There is no wrong time to seek help. Whenever you notice “hey, I’m struggling” is usually the best time to reach out.  

Sometimes you might notice that your friend has been feeling this way, or you notice a change in behaviour, and you decide to gently raise that concern with them.  

You might say; “I think we might need to get some support around how you are feeling and now might be a good time for that”.  

If you or someone you know needs support you can visit your local headspace service or go to your local GP. If you are in Victoria you can visit your nearest Mental Health and Wellbeing Hub for support.  

Online support services that are available include e-headspace, Lifeline, Kids’ Helpline and the mental health triage numbers.  

Most primary schools, high schools and universities have wellbeing teams that can also offer support.   

To learn more about Mind Australia support services near you contact Mind Connect on 1300 286 463.  

If this article raises immediate concerns for you, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14. Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islanders can also call 13 YARN (13 92 76) a 24/7 national crisis support telephone service staffed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.