Many young people who are having difficulties with their family life and are feeling stressed and overwhelmed don’t always look for or know how to get help.

But, they are more likely to look for the help they need when it is suggested by someone close to them, like a friend.  Do you know someone who needs support in coping with difficulties in their family? Have you noticed any of these signs?


Missing school

Homework not done

Avoiding friends, not talking, emotional


Grades slipping

Disruption in class

Feelings Loss Shock Denial






Responsibility Powerlessness



These behaviours and feelings are common and normal among young people going through the separation of their parents or a big change in the family.

They may be warning signs that you or someone you know is in need of support due to the extra pressures being of family change and conflict. Examples of extra pressures are listed below.

Pressures: Feeling responsible or to blame for your parents fighting, separating

Parents wrapped up in their own feelings and not being there for you.

You might feel you have to be your own parent and/or parent to a younger brother or sister

You feel torn in your loyalty towards both parents

You may worry or feel concern for your parents

Living in two different homes – not having your own stuff

There may be less money affecting your social life

You may worry about the lack of money

Loss of home/school/friends/parents/grandparents

You may feel unsafe and find it hard to trust

You may feel you’ve lost your family/childhood

Adjusting to parent’s new partner and/or new step brothers/sisters

Stigma – you may be afraid of what others think

You may feel guilty or to blame if your parents argue about you

You may be used as a weapon by one parent or the other Parents may use you as a go-between to send messages

You may hear one parent criticising the other

You may feel angry towards your parents and love them at the same time

You may feel overwhelmed, angry, sad, anxious, afraid, hurt.


Raising a concern

If you’re worried about a friend it is important to talk about this with them. Let them know you’re worried about them and try not to put the blame on them. Your friend may just need someone to talk to.

Try not to judge them or tell them what to do. Just listen. If they would prefer to talk to someone who isn’t a friend or family member you could suggest a counsellor, visiting the school guidance counsellor, making an appointment with a GP. 


Finding out about services

There are many services available to help young people with issues around their family. If you are uncertain about where to go for support you could try:

Your school guidance counsellor

Your local GP

Teen Crisis Counselling

Contact Sandra - 087 224 9845 


When you find a service you think is right the next step is to make an appointment. You could also ring up anonymously at first to find out information about the service