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Looking for advice as to how we can help our son.

My wife and I have recently retired to an over 55s retirement complex after down-sizing our townhouse where we lived with our now 29 year old son.  We did this to free up finances for travel and also as we believed it was time our son left the 'nest'.  He moved into a rental unit with a female friend (not a girlfriend) and we hoped that this would work out for all of us.


Unfortunately, our son has suffered varying degrees of depression for some years now but a serious street assault 2 years ago has seen his condition plummet considerably.  He was attacked and his cheekbone fractured requiring surgery, pins and plates.  Since then he has become very reclusive and tells friends that he only feels safe and secure when he visits usl, which is a couple of times a week.


He has been in and out of work since leaving school at the end of year 10 but really thrives on outdoor employments such as landscaping, turf laying and gardening.  We have been told he is a very good worker and a decent young man.but although he applies for what work is available in this medium-sized coastal town, he has even applied to do night shelf packing, but  he usually is rejected.  This of course only makes his self-worth and confidence sink even further. He is on the newstart allowance and manages to pay his rent and electricity share; we help with food.


He was recently assessed by a psychologist as part of a victim's compensation claim and today we saw  the final report.  We were devastated at the gloomy assessment of his current psychological condition and future prognosis.  We are also concerned that he might self-harm.


As you can imagine my wife and I are also suffering and just feel completely helpless.  I am 67 years old and my wife 63 and we just want to see our son happy in his life.


We would welcome any advices or suggestions as to what we might do to try and help our dear boy.

Re: Looking for advice as to how we can help our son.

Hi Spudee. It can be really tough to stand by whilst someone you love is struggling and it's understandable that you feel a bit helpless. You sound like very loving and supportive parents and it's admirable that you are actively reaching out and asking for help for your son.


Other than the psychologist for the compensation claim, is your son regularly seeing any kind of doctor or counsellor? Whilst you can be there to listen and provide support, mental health professionals have a bigger 'toolbox' for helping people work through depression.  He could also check out a forum for adults with depression and/or anxiety like BlueBoard (found here: or telephone counselling services like Lifeline (13 11 14).


If being outdoors is something that makes him feel happy and comfortable, is there a way he could volunteer with a tree planting or conservation organisation while he looks for work? Being outdoors might help boost his mood and his confidence for job interviews, as well as looking good on a resume.


Please remember to set your boundaries and look after your own well-being too. It can be easy to forget about your own self-care and lose sight of your plans (like travel) when you are worried about others. You can call Lifeline (13 11 14) too if you ever feel overwhelmed and want someone to speak to who understands the complexity of mental health.




Re: Looking for advice as to how we can help our son.

Hi Spudee,


I just wanted to back up with ElleBelle  mentioned about volunteering. 


When I was in highschool I missed out on my workplacements or any part-time work due to illness. When I entered the adult world I have no skills or experience, but I got involved volunteering with a couple of programs. I learnt some really wonderful skills like communication and I increased my confidence by getting involved. 


I've volunteered with three different organisations over the years and all three have eventually resulted in paid employment. I'm not saying this is a definate, but people really value the work of volunteers and the skills and experience can really make you stand out when you go to join the workforce.


If your son is interested, then encourage him to get involved in some ourdoorsy volunteer opportunities!



Re: Looking for advice as to how we can help our son.

Thank you Elle for your prompt and considerate reply.  We had a real heart-to-heart today with our son and he has arranged for some counseling.  We have also taken on-board your suggestion about volunteer work.  It's not too easy in a smaller community but we are making enquiries to see what is available.


The talk seems to have helped the 3 of us and my wife and I feel much better this afternoon.  But our big aim is to get our son into some permanent employment so we are going to see if we can come up with some strategies toward this.


We are very grateful that you have taken the time to offer some valuable advice it is much appreciated.

Re: Looking for advice as to how we can help our son.

Thank you also Atma for taking time to offer some help.  Lovely to think that complete strangers are prepared to step up.  As you can see from our reply to Elle, we have made some positive decisions in the recent past and we hope this will help the 3 of us.


Our son went to Centrelink this morning, along with a copy of the psychologist's report prepared for Victims' Support.  He had a very sympathetic hearing and they have now said that some of the pressure will be taken off his job agency who were giving him some grief.


Once again, many thanks.

Re: Looking for advice as to how we can help our son.

Hi Spudee,

May I add my support to that already voiced by the other commenters. Your son is lucky to have you in his corner. I see that you've already gotten some good advice about helping your son and he's taken some positive action too. That's great.

I was wondering whether you and your wife have people who are supporting you as well? Just as your son doesn't need to face this alone, neither do you. Smiley Happy

Beyond Blue offers information and support for family and friends:
Beyond Blue - Friends and Family

and if you're looking to find out what kind of peer support might be available in your area, the COTA (Council on the Ageing) in your State or Territory might be a good place to start.



Good luck and best wishes to you and your son.






Re: Looking for advice as to how we can help our son.

Hi Blithe,


Thanks once again for support.  Our son really is a good young man; honourable, loyal, loving and reliable.  It just seems that his young life has been marked by so much bad luck.  But things are a little better in recent days and he has been spending some time with us and just relaxing and feeling secure.  It's the best we can do for him.


My wife and I are coping fairly well but like most people in similar situations, we have good days and bad days.  But we are fortunate to have each other and as well as being married for 34 years, we are good mates and confidantes.  We just feel that if given a chance in a job he enjoys, our son will really blossom.  And a nice young lady would also be a bonus!

Re: Looking for advice as to how we can help our son.

I'm so glad to hear that your relationship with your son had improved after a conversation. It's amazing the power that sitting down and being open can have on relationships.


I hope that your son can find some volunteering opportunities close by. I totally get the small town syndrome and lack of opportunities it can present. There are lot of kind hearted people out there willing to give anyone a go, you just need to find them. I hope you do find them.


I hope your son finds that nice young lady!

Re: Looking for advice as to how we can help our son.

Hi Spudee,

I'm glad you and your wife are able to support each other while you support your son. I hope things look up for him soon. Smiley Happy