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What should I do if my youth is not willing to seek help?

It can be hard to get older children or youth to agree to seek help. In fact, this is a very common problem many parents and caregivers face. 

Sometimes it takes a great deal of patience and time for youth to recognize they need help. And until then, consider these suggestions:

  • Try to understand why they are resisting. Make sure you choose a time and place to talk when you can focus fully on them. Be curious and listen to their perspective without an agenda at hand. If they know you are only asking questions to convince them to engage with services they are less likely to open up to you.
  • Encourage them to get help. Express your feelings and why you are asking them to get support. For example, “I’ve been noticing that…”, or “I feel concerned about you, and I want to help but don't always know how. I would like for us to connect you with a counsellor. I think it would be helpful to talk to someone who could give you a different perspective than me.”
  • Give options. If they aren’t open to the first option you propose, give them a different one. For example, if they aren’t willing to go see a counsellor, but are ready for peer support, let them do that first. Or, tell your youth that a step needs to be taken, but it is up to them what this step is. You can also ask them what type of help they think might be helpful.
  • Send them specific resources, such as the support services listed above (in an email or printout). Let them know that they do not have to read it or even look at it, but there is help out there when they are ready. Suggest that they explore, and you can visit too for resources to share with your youth.
  • Leave messages that help you stay connected to your youth. Let your youth know you are thinking of them, you love them, and you will always be there. Sometimes a text, email, or little handwritten note works well. They may feel less pressured and embarrassed.
  • Get help for yourself through this process. It’s not easy for parents to watch their child struggling. A good starting point could be to connect with our family peer support workers at the Kelty Centre to brainstorm ideas.
  • Discuss your concerns with a health professional (e.g. family doctor, counsellor). This can help you understand your options.

Keep listening, supporting, and caring. Connect with us at the Kelty Centre to help you along the way.

If you believe your child needs immediate medical attention or is in danger of harming themselves or others, call 911.

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