Support options for parents beyond your GP

It’s important, as a parent, to build a strong support network for yourself. When you’re well supported, it’s easier to be there for your teen when they need you.

There are many support options out there, but you may be unaware of what’s available beyond your GP and other traditional health settings, or which options are right for you. You might find that one of the options we describe below is just what you need, or perhaps a combination of them would work well. The best place to start is with something you’re already comfortable with.

Infographic outlining three support options including face-to-face support, phone support and online support.

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Face-to-face support

Think about the way you like to communicate. Do you really enjoy speaking with people in person? Do you like a lot of eye contact or seeing how someone reacts to you in the moment? If so, your first step should be to seek face-to-face support.

This is also a great option if you struggle to talk about personal matters with a stranger and would rather confide in someone you already know and trust, such as a leader in your community. Trust is an important aspect of feeling supported, and connecting with your community is a comforting way to have your story heard.

Examples of sources of face-to-face support could include:

  • family and friends

  • community elders

  • community groups such as Rotary or Lions clubs

  • parent support groups

  • schools

  • faith-based leaders

  • cultural centres.

It’s important to note that while you might feel comfortable speaking with someone in your community, your teen may not be happy about it. If you think they’re uncomfortable with you sharing their story with outsiders, explain to them that you need support and ask them if they’re okay with that. If they say no, it’s best to explore other, more private, support options.

Phone support and helplines

Phone support is a very flexible option that can be tailored to your needs. It can be accessed quickly, which means it’s great when you need advice or support urgently. Many services offer after-hours support, too.

You can also still feel a personal connection without having to be physically in the same space as the person providing the support. Sometimes it’s helpful just to know that someone is on the other end of the phone and that they’re there to support you – for however long you’re on the line.

Phone support is the best option for when you:

  • need a little more anonymity when sharing your story

  • are seeking professional support or advice

  • have a specific support need (e.g. addiction, identity, etc.)

  • don’t have a great internet connection or aren’t super comfortable with navigating technology

  • still want a human connection, without the face-to-face aspect.

There’s a range of national and state-based phone support options available. Choosing a service that’s right for you may take time and will depend on your situation and needs. You might like to start with a popular service and then explore other options over time.

Example services include:

You can find additional phone support services here.

Online support

Online support, much like phone support and helplines, is readily accessible and flexible — it can work around your particular needs, your schedule and your physical location.

Online support options include:

  • online helplines and counselling

  • web chatting, texting and emailing with support services

  • forums and groups

  • websites and wellbeing apps.

Chatting to someone through a web chat, text or email is a great way to access support while remaining anonymous. But if you don’t feel like a one-on-one chat, you could check out forums, Facebook groups and websites to connect with other people in similar situations and gain valuable parenting tips and advice.

Connecting with people on forums can also have a really positive impact on your wellbeing and your relationship with your teen. Forums provide a safe space to grow your support network, express your concerns and share your wins. And as many forums are anonymous, you don’t have to worry about sharing anything publicly.

Forums range in focus from broad to very specific. Some popular options include:

  • ReachOut Parents Forum for parents of teens seeking answers and support, and looking to connect with others

  • eHeadspace for support for young people and their families

  • SANE Forums for lived experience of mental health and support for parents and carers of people with complex mental health challenges

  • Beyond Blue for mental health support

  • Counselling Online for alcohol and drug use support

  • Butterfly for eating disorder support.

Head here to find additional online support services, including apps and websites.

Working out what works for you

It’s important to remember that a support system isn’t one-size-fits-all. It needs to work with you and for you, not against you.

It might be that you mix and match to see what works for you. You could try a phone call one day, a face-to-face chat the next, and then round out the week by scrolling through a forum. It’s about working out what’s going to make you feel supported and confident to tackle any challenges thrown your way.

No matter what your goal is, whether it’s to be heard, understood or educated, seeking out support is a great first step in improving your wellness and better supporting your teen.

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