Like many adults, adolescents have their fair share of resistance in accepting that they may have a "mental illness ". I think it's especially difficult for adolescents because it's a time when they so desperately want to fit in and just be normal. So anything that identifies them as "abnormal" will be difficult to accommodate.
That doesn't mean we don't try and get them help .. so how do we get them there?
Firstly, I would suggest to try to find something that is bothering them ( as opposed to something that is bothering the parent) . For example, the child might be not attending school and the parents are beside themselves about it - but the main issue for the adolescent is that they find it hard to get to sleep at night.
So suggesting a visit to the GP to work out a way to sleep better at night may be more fruitful ( even if it's not the main issue in the parents eyes).
Secondly, I would use language that isn't going to stress the young person out and induce resistance. Terms like "mental illness" or even "depression" can send them running. But words like "not feeling yourself" or "feeling stressed" or "feeling down " may be less confronting, initially anyway .
Thirdly, be super reassuring. Keep telling the young person that you are there for them , that you are confident that they will get through this, that things will be ok , that you are there to help them. Part of them will groan but part will be really relieved .
And lastly .. LISTEN . There is a time to not speak and not do advice but just listen . To really just try and understand what the young person is going through . If they think that you have put the time and tolerance in to listening to them without judging or telling what to do but simply asking more questions, they are MORE likely to then take advice from you at a later point ( like your advice about going to the GP for example) .
I also think that it is imperative to book a double appointment with the GP so the young person isn't rushed and it's ok to also give the GP a call beforehand and give them a heads up that your loved one is coming in and you have these concerns ... that gives the GP the best opportunity to engage the person.
I hope these few tips might help in this tough situation.
What tips do you have to share?
[Mod note: see also beyondblue's Have The Conversation resource. This thread is for sharing tips on what has worked for you in supporting a teenager through a mental health crisis. In order to help us keep this thread focused on solutions, please start a new thread if you would like support from the community about how to support your teenager.]