Kids struggling in mining downturn

JOB losses in the mining industry in Mackay and central Queensland is one of the main factors causing family dysfunction and distress in local children seeking help, a local expert says.

Of the thousands of young people who sought help in 2014 at headspace centres throughout the country, more than 700 asked for help in Mackay.

Headspace clinical psychologist Dr Phillip Stacey said the most common problems Mackay young people had were "high levels of anxiety" from school work, peer relationships and family breakdowns.

"And particularly for a regional area, the mining downturn has impacted families in Mackay. It has significantly increased the level of family dysfunction and distress," Dr Stacey said.

"When the parents are struggling, it is the most vulnerable in the family that feel that distress: the children."

Dr Stacey said many young people did not initially present with self-harming or thoughts of suicide, but it was revealed in conversation.

"The first intervention is just getting it out in the open and talking about it, but there's no special process. Anything that isn't harming and reduces distress is going to have a positive impact," he said.

To help deal with problems, Dr Stacey recommended children talk to parents or a close relative, teacher or friend about "what's going on".

"And for parents, actually listening to them, taking them seriously and finding out what the issues are is the best way to deal with it," he said.