Son struggling with depression but not asking for help

Hi there, I am new to this forum but was recommended it by talking to the helpline at MIND.

I’m after some advice from anyone who may have been, or is in the same situation as we are. My son who is nearly 21 has been struggling with depression for almost 4 years. At first he was willing to try medication and councilling and for a while it seemed to help, he got a job and started college (as he dipped out of A levels as a result of his illness). However about a year ago this suddenly stopped. He decided that he wanted to help himself so stopped councilling and the medication. He has had issues with sleeping (asleep for much of the day then up all night), he spends most of his time on his phone in his room.

He isn’t suicidal, he has a group of friends that he sees occasionally, but he’s biggest issue is that he cannot and will not talk about his depression. He knows he needs to move on but if we try and talk to him he gets incredibly frustrated, and has told me that he just wants to stick his head in the sand. We have no idea what is going on in his head, but desperately want to help him. If anyone has experienced a similar situation and can offer advise we’d be so very grateful. It has got to the stage that it is causing so much stress with the rest of the family we are getting a bit desperate. Thank you.

Hi Debbie,
welcome to the forum.

There are quite a few members supporting family members with mental health issues. I don’t have direct experience of caring for someone with this.

However, members on here say only the person with MH issues can make the decision to engage with help and until they do, it won’t work.

Also, as families it is important to whilst being supportive, to take care that the support doesn’t enable them to stay as they are. i.e. setting simple limits - meals to be served and eaten with the family. As he is living at home he needs a to share in the chores - start very simply with this - nothing too overwhelming. Mrs A. used to invent errands for her son to do to get him out the house e.g. to post a letter etc. Additionally, if he wants credit on his phone - then he needs to fund this himself.

Meanwhile, you all need to look after yourselves, be available but carry on modelling a healthy life - eating well, exercising, natural sleeping patterns and socialising. I know all of this is easier said than done, but think baby steps.


Thank you for your advise, unfortunately it’s something we are aware of already that it’s down to my son to decide when he’s ready to help, but it’s reassuring to hear that we should continue our lives as per normal as much as we can. Setting tasks is something else we have tried but we’ll give that another go.