Conversations play an important role in recognising when someone is going through a difficult time and connecting them to right type of care.


While we all like to have conversations in different ways, talking to someone about what’s challenging us can
be difficult.


#ChatStarter was developed by the National Mental Health Commission in partnership with parents and young people who have experience of mental health challenges and Australia’s national mental health organisations - ReachOut, Butterfly Foundation, Orygen, batyr, headspace, Beyond Blue and Kids Helpline.


Having a small chat can make a big difference. The easy-to-use tips and resources below have been developed by mental health clinicians to help build your confidence and capability to support a friend or loved one who may be experiencing distress or a mental health challenge today.

Before having a chat

Before starting a conversation, ask yourself what support you have in place for yourself:
  • Are you doing OK?
    It is important that you prioritise your own mental health before helping others.
  • Do you have someone you can talk to if a conversation has been challenging?
    It’s absolutely OK to seek support, in fact it is essential.

Then think about the person or people you are going to chat with:

  • Have you noticed a change in their behaviour?
  • Have you noticed a change in their mood?
  • Do they have support people around them?
  • What do they like to do in their spare time?


Here are some ways that you can connect with those around you.

For parents

Supporting our children in difficult times and finding out how they are doing means we often need to find alternative ways to start a chat and to listen.

For young people

Doing things together is a great #ChatStarter, especially when we may not know how to start or what to say.


Here are some #ChatStarter ideas - why not try them out?

Walk & Talk

Walking and talking can break down barriers and help people feel less confronted than chatting face-to-face.

Yarn & Learn

Storytelling can help us understand what people are going through. You might like to yarn with Elders or friends about your experiences and how you’re feeling. You could yarn with members of your household or virtually with others you trust.

Drive & Debrief

Going for a short drive with someone, or taking them for a drive if they’re not up for it, can provide a short-term escape and provide the opportunity for uninterrupted conversation and a place to calm down or clear heads.

Bake & Bond

Keeping our hands busy can help someone feel more comfortable in having conversations about challenges. If your child or friend likes baking, encourage them to choose a recipe to make together.

Relate over Reels

Young people enjoy watching content they relate to - this includes reels and videos on social media. They might share links with you that can help you understand what they’re going through that can help guide conversation. Alternatively, you can sit down and watch some videos together which may help conversation flow.

Create & Connect

This is just for fun - what we draw, write, paint, cook, dance, capture and play can help give insights into someone's experiences. Try photography – why not go bush? Go outside to the backyard or the park nearby if possible and spend time taking photos. You don't need a special camera to capture beautiful colours, textures and reflections.

Dance & Download

Dancing is a great way to express yourself. You, your family, Elders, friends or anyone in your household might like to pick some songs and dance. If you're in different households, a video call to dance and move is a great alternative to face to face when restrictions are tight.

Stretch & Reflect

Stretching and self-reflecting can spark insight, which can alter the way we see ourselves and those around us.

Celebrate & Share

Celebrate the small things together, a home-cooked meal, a friendly message from a friend, a smile or even a wave from the neighbour, or anything that makes you feel good.

DIY & Decompress

Remember that cool cupboard you wanted to build? Ask your parents or siblings to give you a hand at starting a DIY project to focus your mind on.

Mental Health Support Lines

Where to get help

  • headspace (ages 12-25) - call 1800 650 890
  • Kids Helpline (ages 5-25) - call 1800 551 800
  • Lifeline (24/7 crisis support) - call 13 11 14
  • Beyond Blue (mental health support service) - call 1300 224 636
  • Butterfly National Helpline (eating disorders) - call 1800 334 673
  • 1800RESPECT (People impacted by sexual assault, domestic violence, and abuse) - call 1800 737 732
  • Suicide Call Back Service (all ages) - call 1300 659 467
  • Mensline (24/7 counselling service for men) - call 1300 789 978
  • QLife (LGBTI peer support and referral) - call 1800 184 527

#ChatStarter will harness the power of social media to engage parents and young people with Facebook Australia providing significant support as a major partner to reach millions of Australians across the country using Facebook and Instagram.

The campaign will also be promoted on TikTok to extend awareness of the importance of #ChatStarter conversations.

Chat continuers

Below is a series of resources to help continue the conversation

For parents

  • Previous Cards for For parents)
  • More resources for parents

    Start search
  • Next Cards for For parents

For young people

  • Previous Cards for For young people)
  • Resources for young people

    Start search
  • Next Cards for For young people


Chat with others about similar situations

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Page last updated 10th August 2021