New parenting program tackles teen depression

New parenting program tackles teen depression

Parental guidance and support play a crucial role in a young person’s emotional and mental wellbeing, much more so during these times when the coronavirus crisis has created a lot of uncertainty.

In this regard, Melbourne-based mental health charity Prevention United has rolled out more widely a free online program, developed by Monash University experts, that teaches parents how to reduce the risk and deal with teenage depression.

The Partners in Parenting program, which is funded by the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust, offers personalised and practical strategies on several key areas, including establishing and maintaining close with relationship with teenagers, and staying involved while supporting independence.

The program also gives parents tips on establishing family rules and consequences, minimising conflict at home, and helping teenagers solve problems.

“The causes of mental health problems in young people are complex, but decades of research have shown that supportive parenting can be protective and lowers risk,” said Monash University Associate Professor Marie Yap, who is also the program’s founder.

“We are so pleased to make our program available to more parents, to empower them to help build their teenager’s resilience against the challenges life throws at them,” she said.

A recent study published by the Journal of Medical Internet Research showed that parents who completed the online course had improved their parenting practices in ways that reduced teens’ risk of developing depression.

It also found that parents who took the program reported fewer depressive symptoms for their teenager compared to a control group of parents who received general information about teenage development. Most notably, the positive results were maintained 12 months after completing the program.

The study was the second of two randomised controlled trials of the program involving more than 700 Australian parents that showed positive results.

Dr Stephen Carbone, Prevention United Executive Director, said the program was “a great way for parents to get a confidence boost” and learn new parenting skills “as they navigate the tricky teenage years.”

“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,” he said.

Parents and guardians who are interested in taking the free online parenting course can register at Prevention United’s official website.