Asking for help is not always easy, but it’s the first step towards feeling better. Remember that you don’t have to have all the answers when you ask for help. You just need to know that something doesn’t seem right and you want to know what’s going on. Here are some important people you can talk to:
Parents, caregivers, or other people you trust
Talking with your family can be very hard! It’s helpful to think about what you want to say and what you need from your family.
Depending on your age, you may need a parent or guardian to help you see your doctor or other mental health specialists. If you really don’t feel like you can talk to your parents, try talking with another family member, a school counsellor, a friend’s parent, or any other adult you trust.
Your doctor is an important part of your recovery. Your doctor may be able to treat you on their own. If not, your doctor will help you see a mental health specialist like a psychiatrist. A lot of people feel nervous when they talk with their doctor. It’s helpful to think about your doctor’s appointment ahead of time so you can make the most of the time.
School counsellor, teacher, or school staff member
It’s your school counsellor’s job to help people who are going through a difficult situation! Your school counsellor can help you find mental health resources and connect you to support. If depression makes it hard to do well at school, your school might be able to help. For example, your school may give you more time to take tests or more time to complete homework. Your school counsellor is also there if you just need to talk to someone.
If you need to talk with someone these organizations can help:
Alcoholics Anonymous 0861 435 722 www.aasouthafrica.org.za
AIDS Helpline 0800 012 322
Autism South Africa 011 484 9909 www.autismsouthafrica.org
Childline 08000 55 555 www.childlinesa.org.za
National Helplines & Websites
COVID-19 Counselling 0800 786 786
Gender Based Violence Command Center 0800 428 428
Gift of the Givers Careline 0800 786 786 www.giftofthegivers.org
Lifeline 0861 322 322 www.lifelinesa.co.za
LoveLife 0800 121 900 www.lovelife.org.za
Narcotics Anonymous 083 900 6962 www.na.org.za
OUT Helpline 0860 688 688 www.out.org.za
POWA 076 694 5911 www.powa.co.za
SA Federation for Mental Health 011 781 1852 www.safmh.org.za
SASSA Call Centre 076 694 5911 www.sassa.gov.za
SABDA 011 326 0661 www.sabda.org.za
SANCA 011 892 3829 www.sanca.org.za
Tough Love 0861 868 445 www.toughlove.org.za
Women Abuse Helpline 0800 150 150
Depression is very treatable, and you should expect to feel better. Your exact treatment will depend on your own needs and goals. You and your doctor will work together to find a treatment that works for you. Treatment usually includes a mix of the following:
Counselling or “talk therapy” can help you understand what you are experiencing. Many types of therapy focus on skills to help you manage depression. Two types of therapy are very helpful for depression: cognitivebehavioural therapy (also called CBT) and mindfulness training. They may be just as helpful as medication for most people.
If other treatments don’t help, your doctor may give you medicine. Medicines called antidepressants are usually used to treat depression. If you decide to take medicine, it’s important to talk with your doctor about what to expect and follow their instructions as closely as possible.
Support from others
Depression can make you feel like you’re all alone. Support groups are a great way to meet others and see what works for them. Talk to your doctor or contact one of the organizations above to find a support group. If you can’t find a support group in your community, you can find support online. A lot of schools are also starting mental health clubs.
Self-care at home
Self-care is exactly what it sounds like: little things you can do every day to take care of yourself. Self-care doesn’t have to be big or complicated to make a difference. In fact, you’ll get the most out of it if you try simple activities that you can do every day. We have some suggestions listed below. You can also talk to your doctor or mental health professional for more ideas.
Try to get enough sleep every night. It’s hard to feel good when you’re tired! And remember teens need more sleep than adults. If you often can’t sleep well, talk to your doctor or mental health professional.
Try to be active every day—especially if you don’t feel like it! Physical activity is very good for mental health problems like depression because it can boost your mood and help you cope with worry or stress. Even small changes, like going for a short walk after school, can make a big difference.
Try to eat well. When you don’t feel well or don’t have a lot of energy, it’s easy to reach for options that aren’t very healthy. Aim for good nutrition to keep you fueled throughout the day, and talk to your doctor or mental health care team if you have a hard time building a healthy relationship with food.
Try to find ways to relax. You can try listening to music, watching a funny video, going for a walk outside, or whatever helps you. There are even apps and websites to help you try relaxation skills like meditation and mindfulness. Be mindful of using alcohol or other drugs to relax—they can make mental health problems like depression harder to manage.