Australian parenting program lowers risk for teenage depression

A world-leading online parenting program developed by Monash University is showing there are things parents can do to support their teen’s mental wellbeing and reduce their risk of developing depression.

The teenage years can be tough. There are the usual highs and lows, but for many young people, the symptoms of depression emerge for the first time.

A recently published study in the Journal of Medical Internet Research found the Partners in Parenting improves parenting practices in ways that reduce their teen’s risk of developing depression–including parents reporting fewer depressive symptoms for their teenager compared to a control group of parents who received general information about teenage development. Most notably, these positive results were maintained 12 months after completing the program.

This study is the second of two randomised controlled trials of the program involving over 700 Australian parents that showed positive results.

Partners in Parenting is now being rolled out more widely in partnership with mental health charity, Prevention United, with thanks to funding from the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust and support from Monash University.

“The causes of mental health problems in young people are complex, but decades of research has shown that supportive parenting can be protective and lowers risk. We are so pleased to make our program available to more parents, to empower them to help build their teenagers’ resilience against the challenges that life throws at them”, said programme Founder Associate Professor Marie Yap from Monash University.

Prevention United Executive Director Dr. Stephen Carbone said parents are still the most important people in a young person’s life, and such as Partners in Parenting are a great way for parents to get a confidence boost and learn some new parenting skills as they navigate the tricky teenage years.

“It’s free, it works, it’s developed by leading experts right here in Australia, and it’s on-line so parents can access it whenever suits in their busy lives. The program helps put some powerful protective factors for mental health into the homes of everyone who participates. We hope as many parents as possible take up this opportunity.

The program offers personalised and practical strategies across a number of key areas:

  • Establishing and maintaining a close relationship
  • Staying involved while supporting independence
  • Establishing family rules and consequences
  • Minimising conflict at home
  • Helping teenagers solve problems

Parents or guardians of teenagers can sign up for the program at partners in parenting

If you, or someone you know is experiencing a mental health condition and would like treatment or help, please contact your local general practitioner or access the headtohealth website to find a mental health service in your State or Territory.

Alternatively you can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, the Beyond Blue Support Service on 1300 224 636 or Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.

If you, or someone you know, are experiencing a mental health crisis and need urgent assistance, dial 000 to contact emergency services in your State or Territory.