Is your adult child is experiencing a mental health issue?

How to recognise the signs of anxiety and depression in young adult children.

Written by Medibank

Growing up isn't always easy – whether your child is graduating high school, going to university or entering full time employment they may well be faced with a whole new raft of challenges. They may be living out of home for the first time, balancing work and study and navigating romantic relationships. The list goes on.


2 young adults outdoors smiling

It’s no wonder young adults can feel stressed, anxious and irritable sometimes. But when those feelings persist, they can turn into something more serious.

In fact, one of the largest student surveys into mental health of Australian students found that two-thirds of students reported high or very high psychological distress over the past 12 months.

So, when do you need to be concerned about your child’s mental health? Here are some things to look out for when it comes to two of the most common mental health conditions in Australia.

Signs your child might be experiencing anxiety

Given there is a range of anxiety disorders, warning signs can vary. Some to look out for include:

  • constant worrying: Persistent worries or fears that seem excessive for the situation, or always expecting the worst to happen
  • avoiding situations: Avoiding new or social situations that might provoke their anxiety, or feeling shy
  • trouble concentrating: Unable to focus, having difficulty making decisions and remembering things
  • feeling tired: Feeling constantly tired, and finding it difficult to switch off when they go to bed
  • panic attacks: A sudden and overwhelming feeling of fear, accompanied by physical symptoms like a pounding heart, sweating, trouble breathing, trembling or feeling dizzy.

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Signs your child might be experiencing depression

Everyone feels sad from time to time, but sometimes feeling sad can turn into something more severe. If you notice any of these changes and they have lasted for more than 2 weeks, it may be a sign your child needs some support.

  • Feeling irritable: Coming across as grouchy or angry.
  • Feeling sad: Often appearing sad, tearful, or expressing a sense of emptiness.
  • Lack of enjoyment in everyday life: Showing less interest in things they once enjoyed, for example, giving up social or extra-curricular activities like sport.
  • Weight changes: A change in appetite and weight loss even though they are not actively dieting, or weight gain.
  • Feeling tired: Always appearing sleepy, reporting not getting enough sleep or sleeping too much.
  • Problems at university and work: A drop in performance at university or work, for example, not meeting deadlines or not going to work.
  • Trouble concentrating: Unable to focus, having difficulty making decisions and remembering things like appointments.
  • Withdrawing from others: Spending their free time alone and avoiding social situations.
  • Low self-esteem: Having a poor view of themselves, others and their future.
  • Feeling hopeless: Expressing feelings of hopelessness or guilt, or expressing that life isn’t worth living.

What can you do to help?

As a parent, you can play an important role supporting your child to get help for a mental health issue.

A good way to start is by asking them how they’re feeling, and letting them know that you’re there to support them if they need it. You can also help them to get professional support through a GP, or mental health service if they admit they’re struggling. Many universities even offer mental health support on campus.

And remember, if you're a Medibank member with Hospital cover you can ring a mental health professional 24 hours a day 7 days a week on 1800 644 325.~ Mental health information and support is also available for anyone by phoning Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636.

24/7 Mental Health Phone Support

Members with Hospital cover can talk with a mental health professional over the phone in relation to any mental health or emotional concern, 24 hours a day 7 days a week on 1800 644 325~.

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Looking for something else?

Visit our Better Minds hub to find more tools and services.

Talk to us about your cover and accessing services 

Contact Medibank when and how it suits you: online 24/7, in-store, by phone or through the My Medibank app.

Things you need to know

~ OSHC members should call the Student Health and Support Line on 1800 887 283.

While we hope you find this information helpful, please note that it is general in nature. It is not health advice, and is not tailored to meet your individual health needs. You should always consult a trusted health professional before making decisions about your health care. While we have prepared the information carefully, we can’t guarantee that it is accurate, complete or up-to-date. And while we may mention goods or services provided by others, we aren’t specifically endorsing them and can’t accept responsibility for them. For these reasons we are unable to accept responsibility for any loss that may be sustained from acting on this information (subject to applicable consumer guarantees).