How to get help for depression without telling parents?

In this guide we are going to discuss how you can get help for depression without telling your parents. 

How to get help for depression without telling parents?

If you have been struggling with mental health problems like depression, here are some things you can do to get help without involving your parents:

  • Find support
  • Educate yourself
  • Consider counselling in school
  • Establish an alternative emergency contact
  • Choose self care

Dealing with mental health problems can be a major challenge in itself. Having to deal with it alone is another issue, especially if you are a minor or dependent on someone else. 

Seeking professional help is a major part of one’s road to healing and recovery from mental health disorders and most of these services are required to keep things confidential. 

However if you are under the age of 18 and part of an environment that does not support mental health care, getting help for depression or any other mental illness can be extremely challenging. 

There may be many reasons as to why you would want to seek help without letting your parents or guardians know. It is common for adolescents to want to keep things private especially when there is stigma surrounding mental health. 

You might be afraid that your parents might not support you or you might be ashamed of the fact that you need help. Another reason why you wouldn’t want to tell your parents could be that the problem is the family itself. 

An abusive environment or a dysfunctional family pattern may be part of the reason why you are struggling in the first place. 

Whatever your reasons may be, let us start by first acknowledging that you are not alone in your struggle. 

Depression affects teenagers and young adults the most in any population. Teens and young adults often happen to be part of the dependent population in most countries. This makes them reliant on their parents in terms of finances and consenting to health care, including mental health care. 

Let us take a look at some of the ways you can get help for depression without telling your parents. We will also look at some of the things that will make confidentiality difficult for you.

The challenge of confidentiality

If you are an adult, above the age of 18, confidentiality will not be an issue because most health service providers are bound by the contract of non-disclosure. 

Informed consent

You being an adult gives you the privilege of confidentiality under this contract since you are deemed capable to give consent for treatment. 

However, if you are a minor, most states and countries have laws that deem people under the age of 18 (some 16) incapable of giving consent for treatment which means a legal guardian must be present to give consent. 

Payment and insurance

Whether you are a minor or an adult, if you are financially dependent on your parents or legal guardians, confidentiality will be a challenge.

The rates of psychotherapy per session tend to be high- and average cost of therapy range between 60 to 250 dollars which can be a high amount for any dependent to shell out. 

Confidentiality can especially be difficult if you need to use insurance to cover the cost since psychotherapy services tend to be high in cost. 

Insurance companies will send across documents and notifications when the insurance is used along with the details of what kind of treatment was used and the total amount it cost.

Mandated reporting

Another issue that makes confidentiality tricky is the fact that mental health service providers are mandated to report to a legal guardian or any authority in three cases:

  • If you are suspected of harming others or yourself
  • If there is suicidal ideation and previous attempts
  • If it there is abuse involved

While therapists and doctors are serious about the ethicality of non-disclosure, mandated reporting is also part of their code of ethics and is part of their duty to protect their clients from harm.

Mandated reporting is done irrespective of if the client is an adult or a minor. 

Alternative strategies 

Considering the limitation of confidentiality and consent, let us take a look at a few things you can do to get help for your depression without getting your parents or any other guardians involved. 

Find support

In case you are a minor and you are unable to maneuver around the requirements surrounding informed consent and finance, consider seeking out support groups- offline and online. 

Usually community centers will have information about people who come together to support each other and cope with depression. Research has shown that support groups are effective in helping people with mental illnesses cope- especially those facilitated by a professional. 

If you do not want to go personally, you can opt for support group forums surrounding depression where you can meet people who are also coping with the symptoms of depression. 

Whether you are a dependent adult or a minor, seeking support from support groups can be helpful if it is done with the intent to find support and learn various techniques and skills from others in helping you cope with depression. 

Educate yourself

Educate yourself about your conditions through reliable sources online. You can watch video essays and seek support from the community that a particular forum, website, or e-professional might have built. 

Take time to learn about what could be happening to you and also what are some of the ways you can cope to reduce symptoms. Cognitive behaviour therapy techniques tend to be especially effective for depression. 

Most of these techniques revolve around cognitive distortions and core beliefs which may require you to challenge them and restructure your belief system. 

By educating yourself you can empower yourself to make changes- no matter how small- which can help you cope with your symptoms.

However, if your symptoms also include suicidal ideation and attempts, it is of utmost importance that you seek out help and support from your professional health care service provider and your family. 

Consider counselling in School

Another avenue for support and help could be your school counsellor. School counsellors are also trained professionals that can help students to adjust to the school environment and also attend to and identify psychological disorders.

However, you have to remember that by ethics they are also mandated reporters. They can reach out to the school administration, your parents, or any other external services for the same reasons cited above.

Alternative emergency contact

If you are an adult and you need help to deal with your depression but you do not want your parents involved, you can list the name of your trusted friend, your sibling, or your partner as an emergency contact. 

This is mandatory and required in the event of a crisis such as a possible suicide attempt or if the professional believes that you are a harm to others or yourself. 

Choose self care. 

There are many things you can do to take care of yourself and help yourself through your depression. Most of them are also techniques and skills that are used in therapy under the  professionals’ guidance. 

Some of them include

  • Journaling your thoughts and feelings to develop insight
  • Doing things that bring you joy
  • Challenging your distortions
  • Spending time with loved ones
  • Setting realistic goals
  • Removing or reducing stressors

Get your family involved

It can be scary to get your family involved when it comes to mental illness because of stigma, or fear of judgement, or the fact that the family environment is a causal factor in your experience of depression. 

However you have to understand that treatment in itself is not going to solve the problem especially if the family environment is a causal factor. 

While you might make efforts to change and improve your personal life, the environment will not allow much improvements. In fact it might even cause relapses. 

Take a moment and consider talking to your parents about what you are going through because getting treatment becomes easier when there is no one to hide from. 

Your parents might also be more supportive than you know. However, if you find that they are resistant, use resources to educate them, tell them how it affects your life- it could be performance at school, or get another adult to advocate for you.

If your parents agree to treatment, and you still want to keep things confidential, sitting them down to tell them that you are a private person can help. You do not have to worry about the professional breaking contract unless there is a crisis involved. 

If there is abuse, and you are afraid that talking about getting mental health support will only aggravate the problem, it becomes all the more important that you seek out help from another adult that you trust who will get the help necessary. 

You have to accept that protecting you becomes first priority even if it means separating you from the abusive environment and various other drastic changes. Getting the help you need will also help you cope with these changes and better adjust to them.


In this guide we have discussed the challenges to confidentiality and what you can do as an adult and as a minor to get help without involving your parents and your family. 

Frequently asked questions related to “How to get help for depression without telling parents?”

Is there a way to get therapy without parents knowing?

In many states in the US, teens can be given mental health support without parents being involved. The age group differs according to state- some 16 while other states 18. 

However, the issue lies with informed consent for treatment where medication and psychotherapy is involved along with crisis intervention and mandatory reporting. 

How do I get help if I can’t afford my mental health?

If you cannot afford to pay the full amount for therapy you can consider health centers and community support groups. You can also consider seeking out professionals who work pro-bono. 

Can a 16 year old get antidepressants without parental consent?

For medication and treatment for depression, most countries require teenagers to have parental consent for them to be given any type of medication. 

What do I do if I can’t afford therapy?

Here are some of the things that you can do to be able to afford therapy:

  • Check your insurance and see if it covers mental health care
  • Check with your therapist if they work pro-bono cases or they have a sliding scale option.
  • Look into community health care centers 
  • Seek out therapists and psychologists in training who are supervised.
  • Check out online therapy as their rates can be more affordable.

How young can a child be to go to therapy?

Some countries do allow children to be able to provide consent for treatment. They can be as young as 12. However this is viable only for certain countries, states, and situations. One such situation can be voluntary signing up for treatment and rehabilitation for substance use.