How to find other parents to talk to about your teen’s depression
Parenting a teenager with depression is hard! If you need support and don’t have time for therapy or a formal support group, here’s how to find other parents to talk to about your teen’s depression on Facebook.
When my daughter developed depression at age thirteen, I thought, it’s ok. I’ve got this. We got her professional help–a therapist, psychiatrist and medication. I had a supportive family and friends.
Then, about six months later, while Googling “cutting” I found this article on HuffPost, written by a woman known only as Michigan Mom. She wrote:
I didn’t sign up for this. Hiding the knives. Locking up the household cleaners. Checking his room for anything sharp, for hidden meds he didn’t take. Noticing new cuts on his arms. Wondering if I will find him dead in his room in the morning.“How I Survived Parenting a Teenager with Depression“–HuffPost.com
I bawled like a baby. Until that moment, I hadn’t realized how alone I felt.
While I had plenty of people to talk to, not one of them spoke to me like Michigan Mom: uncensored and unapologetic.
Little did I know, there were thousands more just like her on Facebook, and connecting with them made all the difference. If you’re not sure if Facebook is for you, here are the pros and cons of Facebook groups and how to find one.
How to find other parents to talk to on Facebook
I have yet to find a mental health organization that lists Facebook as a resource for parents who need someone to talk to about their teen’s depression. But whenever I meet a parent who’s struggling, it’s my number one recommendation.
To get started, Google “Facebook groups for parents of depressed teenagers” and you’ll find Parenting Mental Health, which was started by Suzanne Alderson, a UK-based mom with a big heart and endless energy. From there, Facebook will suggest other, similar groups.
Most groups are private. You’ll have to answer a few questions to be admitted. The benefit is that only those who are in the group can read, comment or post.
Still, it is Facebook. You are operating on someone else’s platform. If you’re concerned about privacy, read up on Private Facebook Groups first. Then you can decide if the benefits outweigh the risks.
The pros of private Facebook groups
A Facebook group is not a substitute for therapy or professional support—I can’t stress this enough–but they do have a lot going for them.
Most important, they make you feel less alone. Spend even a day in one of these groups and you’ll be amazed at how many parents are going through what you’re going through and feel exactly the same way you do.
You can benefit from an incredible amount of lived experience. If you are not comfortable posting in the group, you can still benefit from hearing what others have to say. There’s no pressure to participate. Dealing with a specific problem? Search within the group and instantly find a dozen parents who have been there, done that.
Private Facebook groups are international, which is both a pro and a con. Services and treatment plans differ in different parts of the world, so one person’s experience my not be relevant to your own situation. However, this international perspective may also help you learn more about treatments that are not routinely used in your area.
They’re free and accessible 24-hours a day. Depression keeps unpredictable hours, so this is huge. Whether you’re crumpled in a heap on your bathroom floor or waiting terrified and devastated in the ER at 3am, you can always go online. Inevitably, there’s another mom in another part of the world who’s just sitting down to a cup of tea. She well rested, knows exactly how you are feeling, and will send you virtual hugs or prayers from a place of hope.
The cons of private facebook groups
All that said, you may want to pace yourself.
Facebook groups can be overwhelming. Just as there’s always someone there to help, there’s also always someone else in need. When you’re dealing with your first suicide attempt, it can be disheartening to read of others who are on their third or fourth. Plus, these groups grow daily. It’s sometimes difficult to believe that access to care will ever improve.
They are not professional therapy. Like anything on this blog, private Facebook groups should not be used as a substitute for professional therapy. You’re dealing with parents, not professionals. Take any advice with a grain a salt, and be sure to check with your professional caregivers before acting on it.
You’ll hear a lot of opinions. Some of them may be the polar opposite of your own. Others may rub you the wrong way. Remember, tone gets lost in text. Also, what might be right for one person, might not be right for you. Have an open mind and always give people some grace.
Real connections are hard to make. While it’s easy to find support and encouragement, it’s harder to find true friends on Facebook who can support you offline. Some groups do a better job of connecting its members than others, so don’t be afraid to join more than one. Professional therapy or an in-person (or virtual now in our COVID world) support group may serve you better.
So, if you’ve been crying alone in the middle night like I was and need someone to talk to about your teen’s depression, why not find a Facebook group? Doing so won’t cure your teenager’s depression, and it won’t help you settle your own inner demons, but it might help you feel less alone. Enough at least to take the next step towards mental health.
- Book Pick: Parenting Through the Storm by Ann Douglas
- Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine’s Mental Health Resources for Parents of Adolescents and Young Adults