How can a psychologist help?
It’s estimated that 1 in 35 young people (aged 4-17) in Australia experience depression – that’s equivalent to 112,000 young people.
While we might often associate depression with adults; children and adolescents are also vulnerable to difficulties with their mood that can get in the way of them participating in, and enjoying life.
What is depression?
Depression is an illness that affects the way that people feel and think. While it can be hard for children to express how they’re feeling, you might spot changes in their eating and sleeping patterns, social behaviours, energy levels, as well as them appearing sad and more irritable. Your child’s teachers may also spot differences in their ability to focus and concentrate in class.
Early intervention can treat your child’s depression, and increase resilience to future mental problems.
How can I get help?
The first step in seeking help for your child is to speak to your GP who can give you more information about depression and treatment options. They can provide your child with a Mental Health Treatment Plan (MHTP) and a referral for psychological therapy.
Under the Medicare Benefits Scheme your child can get a rebate on up to 10 sessions of psychological therapy in any calendar year with a MHTP; although often there will be a gap fee.
How will a psychologist choose the right treatment for my child’s depression?
Your psychologist will refer to research into the effectiveness of different therapies to choose the most appropriate therapy. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can be easily tailored to the abilities and needs of your child, and can help them to build the skills needed to understand and manage their mood effectively.
What can I expect at our first appointment with a psychologist?
At your first session it’s likely that there will be questionnaires to fill in about your child’s difficulties, and questions about any changes you’ve noticed in them. It’s likely that you and your child will both have time individually with the psychologist as part of the assessment.
They will ask you both broader questions about things like family life, school, social life, and any family history of depression. This is so that they can take the whole family context into consideration when treating your child’s depression.
What happens next?
Your psychologist should have a clear plan for treatment; with involvement from both you and your child. It’s likely that you will regularly review your child’s progress with your psychologist and re-set goals if necessary.
Written by Dr. Ashley McColl