- The Dangers of Excessively High Self-Esteem
- People with excessive self-esteem
- High self-esteem and a world without limits
- Overly high self-esteem doesn’t lead to success or happiness
- Overconfidence and crime
- The ranges of self-esteem
- Benefits of healthy self-esteem
- Signs of healthy self-esteem:
- Costs of low self-esteem
- Signs of low self-esteem:
- Improve your self-esteem
- Self-help with TAO
- The Following Modules are Helpful for Creating a Healthy Self-Esteem:
- When Self-esteem Is Too High
- Is This Really a Problem?
- Some Characteristics to Look For
- Creating Feel-good Kids
- Are Parents to Blame?
- Getting Back to an Appropriate Level of Self-esteem
- Is Treatment Required?
- The Goal is to Have a Healthy Self-Esteem
- You May Also Be Interested In
- The 10 Thought Habits of People with High Self-Worth
- 1. No matter what I’ve done or haven’t done, I’m worthy of love
- 2. My “things” do not define me
- 3. I am allowed to feel whatever I’m feeling
- 4. I delight in the joy of missing out
- 5. It’s not about what happens; it’s about how I respond to what happens
- 6. I do what I love, and I love what I do
- 7. I see myself in others
- 8. I believe in something greater than myself
- 9. Every day, I find things to be grateful for
- 10. The story I tell about my life means everything
- Think Worthy Thoughts, Take Worthy Action: The Self-Worth Checklist
- References: 1. Brown, Brené. (2012). Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. 2. “Self Esteem,” Psychology Today. 3. Ferriss, Tim. (2016). Tools of Titans. 4. Demartini, John. Breakthrough Experience: A Revolutionary New Approach to Personal Transformation. New York: Hay House, 2002
- Self-esteem and mental health
- What are the signs of low self-esteem?
- What causes low self-esteem?
- What are the effects of low self-esteem?
- What health problems are associated with low self-esteem?
- How to improve your self-esteem
- Resources and support
The Dangers of Excessively High Self-Esteem
Having excessively high self-esteem is neither positive nor healthy. Being overly confident and overestimating your worth leads to problematic behaviors and attitudes. These kinds of people don’t take responsibility for their own mistakes and they also have narcissistic tendencies.
Self-esteem is a very important topic in the world of personal growth. New books and articles on how to boost this basic psychological “muscle” that’s crucial for your well-being are always being published. That being said, some authors neglect to talk about the negative side of high self-esteem. That’s what we’re going to tackle today.
It’s important to clarify that the antidote to low self-esteem isn’t high self-esteem. Extremes are always dangerous and harmful. If you swing from one to the other, you’ll just create more problems.
Thus, it’s important to lay out what we mean by healthy self-esteem. In modern society, leadership, self-love, and self-confidence are considered important. However, you should always keep in mind that “the more the better” isn’t always the way to go.
“Be faithful to that which exists nowhere but in yourself.”
People with excessive self-esteem
One of the most interesting books by social psychologist Albert Bandura is called Self-Efficacy: The Exercise of Control. In his book, Bandura argues that perceived efficacy and self-esteem are key factors for navigating problems and being successful in every aspect of life.
Many things can get in the way of your goals and your happiness, such as low self-esteem and excessively high self-esteem. They’re both equally bad.
High self-esteem and a world without limits
Child psychologists often point out that children have to learn early on that the world has boundaries. They must understand that there are rules and that you don’t always get what you want. Being able to tolerate frustration is an essential life skill. If you never learn how to do it, you could end up facing a lot of problems.
Many children and teens are taught that they can have whatever they want. They’re little monarchs. They feel entitled to do and have whatever their hearts desire. Raising kids to have this excessively high self-esteem can turn them into egocentric, abusive, arrogant, and impulsive people.
The dangers of high self-esteem tend to stem from children’s upbringing.
Overly high self-esteem doesn’t lead to success or happiness
Contrary to what you might think, having extra high self-esteem won’t make you successful. Instead, it leads to the following problems:
- Excessively high self-esteem makes you believe that the projects, tasks, or jobs that other people propose are beneath you. As a result, your pride makes you miss a lot of good opportunities.
- Arrogance and a sense of entitlement distance you from those around you. Having a giant ego makes other people uncomfortable.
- You’re blind to your own mistakes and you can’t learn from them. Your failures are always someone else’s fault, never your own.
- In relationships, excessively high self-esteem can make it impossible to see things from your partner’s perspective. In the worst case, this can lead to abuse.
- It can also cause serious problems in your work relationships and your friendships.
Overconfidence and crime
For a long time, researchers associated criminal behavior with low self-esteem. However, in the last few years, studies have shown that excessively high self-esteem also correlates with violent acts. A study by Dr. Robert Roy F. Baumeister at Princeton University explains that a sense of superiority is a decisive factor in a lot of criminal behavior.
Many criminals display signs of narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy, which go hand in hand with an excessively high self-esteem that justifies their bad behavior. They think too much of themselves and, consequently, believe that they should have everything they want.
In conclusion, high self-esteem also has a dark side. Everyone knows that low self-esteem is risky, but so is the other extreme.
At the end of the day, self-esteem is the art of self-care. However, it becomes unhealthy when it tips toward either extreme. The key is to find that perfect balance of self-appreciation and respect for others.
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Self-esteem is your overall opinion of yourself, your beliefs about your abilities and limitations.
Self-esteem is shaped by your thoughts, relationships, and experiences, including those related to culture, religion, and societal status.
Many beliefs you hold about yourself today reflect messages you've received from others over time. Students in their college years often re-examine their values and develop new or altered perceptions of themselves.
The ranges of self-esteem
It is natural to feel better about yourself some days more than others, but you want to keep your overall self-esteem in a healthy range. Here is what the different ranges look :
- Overly high self-esteem: Feeling superior to others. People with overly high self-esteem are often arrogant, self-indulgent, and express feelings of entitlement. They tend to overlook their own flaws and criticize others.
- Low self-esteem: Feeling inferior to others. People with low self-esteem value the opinions of others above their own. It is sometimes difficult for them to accept compliments, as they tend to focus on their perceived weaknesses rather than their assets. They are often afraid of failure and believe everyone else is better than they are.
- Healthy self-esteem: Having an accurate and balanced self-view. People with healthy self-esteem recognize and accept their abilities and their flaws, their strengths and their weaknesses. They hold realistic expectations for themselves and others.
Benefits of healthy self-esteem
Healthy self-esteem contributes to feelings of worth and security. If you have healthy self-esteem, you are more ly to have positive relationships with others. Your confidence enables you to do your best at school or work.
Healthy self-esteem helps you maintain a positive outlook even when you don’t meet expectations, as you can be more open to feedback and growth opportunities. Your self-acceptance frees you from the need to conform in order to be accepted by others.
When your self-esteem is healthy, you are less ly to develop mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, or addictions.
Signs of healthy self-esteem:
- Assertive in expressing needs and opinions
- Confident in ability to make decisions
- Able to form secure and honest relationships, and discontinue unhealthy ones
- Realistic in expectations; not overcritical of self or others
- More resilient; better able to endure stress and setbacks
Costs of low self-esteem
Low self-esteem makes it difficult to make decisions. If your self-esteem is low, you depend excessively on the approval of others. Lacking confidence, you tend to avoid taking risks because you fear failure.
You generally expect to be unsuccessful, and you are overly self-critical when you make mistakes. You frequently put yourself down and tend to disregard compliments you receive.
Having a negative view of yourself increases you chances of having unhealthy relationships with others.
Signs of low self-esteem:
One of the easiest ways to identify low self-esteem is to pay attention to your thought patterns. Here are some of the ways that you might find yourself thinking if you have low self-esteem:
- All-or-nothing thinking. You see things as either all good or all bad.
- Overgeneralization. You assume that one negative fact or event creates a general rule for your life.
- Mental filtering. You focus only on the negative aspects of life, dwell on them, and magnify them.
- Converting positives into negatives. You disregard or reject the positive aspects of life. You make excuses for your achievements.
- Jumping to negative conclusions. You assume the worst, even when you have no evidence to support it.
- Mistaking feelings for facts. You feel stupid, lazy, or ugly, so you conclude that you must really be stupid, lazy, or ugly.
- Personalizing everything. You assume everything negative has something to do with you. You take inappropriate responsibility and feel inappropriate guilt.
Improve your self-esteem
Low self-esteem can negatively affect your entire life, including school, work, relationships, and health. So improving your self-esteem is a very worthwhile task, and your college years are an ideal time to engage in this process. Here are some ideas to help you achieve higher self-esteem:
- Adjust your negative thinking patterns:
- Search for shades of gray. Almost nothing is all good or all bad.
- View all the evidence, including signs that you’re okay.
- Seek positives. Challenge yourself to find the positive aspects of life.
- Accept your strengths. Take in compliments and celebrate your accomplishments.
- Separate feelings from facts.
- Own only what’s yours. Don’t take emotional responsibility for others.
- Forgive yourself. Everyone makes mistakes.
- Take risks. New experiences are opportunities to learn.
- Encourage yourself. Give yourself credit for making positive changes.
- Avoid comparisons. Evaluate yourself independently. Don’t rely on the opinion of others or compete with others for your own self-worth.
- Use positive self-talk. Argue with your inner critic.
- Utilize positive affirmations. Make a list of your positive qualities and accomplishments, and use it to improve your self-esteem:
- Keep it in a handy, visible place. Put it in your nightstand, enter it in your phone, or tape it on your bathroom mirror.
- Refer to it when you’re feeling low. Remind yourself of your strengths.
- Read it regularly. The more you read it, the more you’ll believe it.
- Add to it regularly. This will heighten your awareness of new accomplishments and the positive qualities they represent.
Self-help with TAO
Therapy Assistance Online (TAO) is a platform of free self-help educational modules to help you learn about and change how you think and feel.
The Following Modules are Helpful for Creating a Healthy Self-Esteem:
When Self-esteem Is Too High
Self-esteem is something we all have to one degree or another. A balanced level of self-esteem helps us navigate through life’s challenges, make appropriate choices and interact in a positive way with other people.
Problems with self-esteem come when it is either too high or too low. A previous post addressed the effects of low self-esteem. This post will tackle the problems associated with self-esteem that is too high.
Is This Really a Problem?
Yes. Just low self-esteem can create all kinds of personal problems, high self-esteem can too. Teens with extremely high self-esteem can have serious problems with relationships, addiction and criminal behavior.
These characteristics are often accompanied with impulse control problems, lack of empathy, and risky behavior. Teens with too high self-esteem tend to be arrogant, manipulative and bullying.
Thinking only of themselves, these teens often take what they want not caring how it affects the people around them.
Some Characteristics to Look For
- Arrogant and self-Indulgent
- Abusive behavior in relationships
- Bullying and manipulative
- Impulse control problems
- Unable to recognize own faults
- Unwilling to change
- Unrealistic view of abilities
- Prone to risky behavior
- A sense of entitlement
- Reacts angrily to criticism
- Deceive themselves and others
Creating Feel-good Kids
Isn’t high self-esteem supposed to be good? For many years parents were instructed to make their kids feel good about themselves. Build-up the esteem so kids could feel positive about themselves took priority.
However, this approach lead to kids growing up with unrealistic expectations and unhealthy attitudes.
Today, an entire generation kids have grown up with unrealistic views of themselves, over-inflated egos, and an unhealthy sense of entitlement.
Are Parents to Blame?
Although parents can take some of the blame, much of it comes from the changes in society as a whole. The media leads the way with a battery of shows involving self-absorbed actors and so-called ‘reality’ shows. These individuals in the media do much to shape the behavior of teens who want to conform to society norms and emulate behaviors they see on TV.
Although media has a strong influence, parents are in the drivers seat when it comes to affecting the behavior of their kids. Parents can take effective measures to help their kids change their attitudes and have a more balanced approach to life.
Getting Back to an Appropriate Level of Self-esteem
What parents can do is eliminate some of their contributions to the problem. Don’t spoil your kids. That may mean cutting down on praise and nurturing, giving kids and teens more honest evaluations. The Love And Logic Methodology is filled with excellent parenting ideas that lead to a healthy level of self-esteem.
Parents can also talk to their kids about the images and people they see in the media and point out bad behavior. For younger kids, restricting access to shows that create the wrong values helps avoid problems down the road.
Boundaries are also important for teens. Creating clear and consistent boundaries has a very positive effect on teens. When parents create clear boundaries, it help teens feel loved, and helps them regulate their behavior.
Is Treatment Required?
Often when teens end up in clinical environments, it is not for too high self-esteem. They get there because of their behavior, whether it is drug use, stealing, or violence.
In the treatments that follow, the psychologist will need to work with the individual to identify and treat the underlying issues.
Quite often, too high a self-esteem is a part of the issues confronting these teens.
The Goal is to Have a Healthy Self-Esteem
Both low and high self-esteem lead to problems. Parents can help their kids develop appropriate levels of self-esteem through Love And Logic parenting methods and not pampering their kids too much. Then, as the kids grow into teens, they will have a solid background in what is acceptable behavior. They will be able to make good choices and build positive relationships.
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The 10 Thought Habits of People with High Self-Worth
Reading Time: 8 minutes
Self-worth is self-love. It means being on your own team. It means giving yourself the same respect, dignity, and understanding you want for your loved ones.
Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?
The consequences of low self-worth can be huge. Depression, risky behaviors, the willingness to tolerate abusive treatment, and a nagging sense of failure to reach your own potential are all signs of it.
Indeed, low self-worth is often the cause — not the effect — of hardships in your life, whether they are financial, relational, physical, and so on.
So, how do we improve it? It starts by changing how we think. In this article, you’re going to learn about ten different thought habits and beliefs that people with a high sense of self-worth consistently demonstrate.
These are simple concepts yet may seem strange, especially if you’ve spent a lifetime struggling with confidence or self-esteem. But consistently working to adopt these beliefs about yourself can pay off big time in virtually all areas of your life. So take a few minutes to read through these ten beliefs and then pick a couple to try on for yourself and see what happens.
1. No matter what I’ve done or haven’t done, I’m worthy of love
A person with a high sense of self-worth takes responsibility for their mistakes, but does not degrade themselves for making them. If they goof, they say, “I did a bad thing” instead of “I am bad.” They say sorry when they needs to, and do what they can to make things right.
They do not grieve alone, but lean on their loved ones for support. They know that they’re not the only person who’s experienced this, and that by sharing their story with people who have earned the right to hear it, they are taking good care of themselves.
On the other side of things, the self-worthy person does not become overly dependent on success, flattery, or adoration. This person is confident and takes pride in their achievements, but shows grace and humility, too. They don’t do things to get love; they do things for the love of them.
This person welcomes both success and failure — both of which are useful, largely subjective, and never a barometer of a person’s worthiness.
2. My “things” do not define me
You are not the clothes you wear, the car you drive, or the relationship you do or don’t have.
Yes, it is healthy and even fun to enjoy the finer things in life, and a person with solid self-worth is able to do so joyously. But this same person also recognizes the impermanence of everything. Money comes and goes. Relationships end. Accidents happen. Things lose value, break down, get lost, get old, and die.
The person who honors their worthiness knows that they can enjoy external things without attaching their identity to them. They appreciate what they have while they have it, and wholeheartedly strives to get what they truly want. But they also know that even without these “things,” they can still look in the mirror and say, “You are enough.”
3. I am allowed to feel whatever I’m feeling
People with self-worthiness are not “always happy.” They feel all the same feelings that anyone else feels.
The difference is that a person with a solid sense of self-worth creates space for their emotions without feeling guilty about them. They understand that their emotions are just tools that are helping them pay attention. They notice their emotions, and allow them to be as they are. Then, when this person no longer needs those emotions, they simply let them go.
4. I delight in the joy of missing out
A self-worthy person is not afraid to be alone. They love hanging out with their closest friends and family, but also cherish solo time.
This person doesn’t go to parties and events simply because they are afraid to be left out. They believe the people who really matter will always welcome them, and even if they don’t, they will still be okay on their own.
This person knows that what other people think about them is none of their business.
They create time and space for themselves, and honor that by setting firm boundaries. They do not allow people to encroach on their privacy. They invite people into their life who have earned the right to be there — and recognize that other people have the right to invite them in (or not), as well.
5. It’s not about what happens; it’s about how I respond to what happens
People who have a high sense of self-worth haven’t had easier lives than people who don’t. They simply remember that only they are responsible for their feelings, thoughts, and actions. They do not stay stuck in victim-hood, and they don’t spend too much time feeling sorry for themselves when things hit the fan.
But it’s not that people with self-worth never feel bad or get down on themselves. They do — we all do. The difference comes in how these feelings are handled.
Rather than getting stuck in what’s “wrong” right now, there is a more powerful way to approach obstacles and the resulting negative feelings. We can choose to acknowledge these feelings, forgive ourselves for whatever we labeled as “wrong,” and move forward with the new information we have gathered because of these experiences.
6. I do what I love, and I love what I do
What do you value most in life? What do you look forward to doing? What would you do if knew you couldn’t fail—or what would you still do even if you knew you could fail?
A self-worthy person puts their needs first. This doesn’t mean they are selfish — it simply means that they know it is each person’s responsibility to put their own needs first. They inherently know that they can only love and help others to the extent that they love and help themselves, so they make time and set aside energy to invest in the life they want.
The self-worthy person looks for the “win-win” situations. They are able to help others by helping themselves. They believe in fair trade and equal exchange. They find joy in doing what they love, and they honor other people’s right to do what they love, too.
7. I see myself in others
Self-worth requires the belief that the world is a a mirror. If people are judging you, it’s because you are reflecting a part of them that they have yet to accept.
Sure, their judgment may hurt — but ultimately, it’s about them. It doesn’t have to become your truth.
And their judgment can only hurt you to the extent that you hold that judgment against yourself, as well.
The same is true for when you judge others. Whatever you see in someone else is something you have in you.
To this end, self-worthy people are thankful for the challenging people in their lives because they see them as opportunities to learn more about themselves.
And these people take heart in seeing the positive in others, because that means they can see those things in themselves as well.
8. I believe in something greater than myself
You don’t have to believe in God or subscribe to an organized religion to have self-worth. But having the belief in some “higher power,” some unifying connection between everyone and everything, can be enough to help you keep things in perspective — even that part of humanity that existed before you were born and that you will contribute to and leave behind when you’re gone.
A person with a high sense of self-worth is neither full of themselves, nor thinks that the world revolves around them. Instead, this person remembers and is humbled by their small but important role in the grand scheme of things. a singular wave in a great big ocean, they know they are part of something greater, and as such are never truly “alone.”
9. Every day, I find things to be grateful for
Gratitude is a daily practice for people with high self-worth. These people appreciate the small and big gifts of life, and expresses appreciation whenever and however they can.
It’s pretty easy to feel grateful when things seem to be going well. A true challenge is to find things you can say “thank you” for even when you are dealing with one of the greatest challenges of your life. You can only do this if you are willing to detach your sense of worthiness from your achievements and your external circumstances.
10. The story I tell about my life means everything
The way you think influences the way you live.
If you can believe this statement, and start changing your thoughts your belief, expect to experience some serious self-growth, new opportunities, and a deepening and hugely empowering sense of self-love.
So, ask yourself: What kind of life story are you telling yourself? What do you say you “always,” “never,” “should,” or “ought to” do? Are these expectations actually true? Where do they come from?
A person with high self-worth asks these questions. They may write them down in a journal or discuss them with a trusted friend, family member, or therapist. They enjoy the process of learning, and at any moment realize that they have the power to change their own story.
Think Worthy Thoughts, Take Worthy Action: The Self-Worth Checklist
For every empowering and self-loving thought you have, there should also be a complementary action to support it. Run through this Self-Worth Checklist and make a goal to start implementing at least one of these nurturing action steps every week, if not every day:
- Eat healthy food.
- Politely decline invitations to events that you have no interest in attending.
- Minimize your alcohol intake.
- Get a massage.
- Write in a journal.
- State affirmations to yourself in the mirror.
- Be aware (and cut back on) how many times you say the words, “I’m sorry.”
- Ask for help.
- Listen to your favorite music.
- Treat yourself to something you love to do.
- Learn something new.
- Do something that takes you your comfort zone.
- Be confident in your own thoughts, feelings, and opinions.
- Practice the fine art of letting go.
Got a friend? Share this list with him or her. Utilize the power in numbers and make your journey of self-worth a collaborative one with the people closest to you. The world needs more people operating closer to their fullest potential, and your commitment to improving your self-worth will certainly help with that.
1. Brown, Brené. (2012). Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead.
2. “Self Esteem,” Psychology Today.
3. Ferriss, Tim. (2016). Tools of Titans.
4. Demartini, John. Breakthrough Experience: A Revolutionary New Approach to Personal Transformation. New York: Hay House, 2002
Self-esteem and mental health
Self-esteem is the way we think about ourselves and the value we place on ourselves.
We all criticise ourselves from time to time, but if you often think badly about yourself or judge yourself negatively, you may have low self-esteem. You may not know the cause of your low self-esteem, but there are steps you can take to improve it.
Self-esteem is different to self-confidence. Confidence relates to a person’s ability in a particular area of their life. A person can be very confident about their particular abilities, but still have low self-esteem. Achieving confidence in a particular area of life won’t necessarily improve self-esteem.
What are the signs of low self-esteem?
Signs of low self-esteem include:
- saying negative things and being critical about yourself
- joking about yourself in a negative way
- focusing on your negatives and ignoring your achievements
- blaming yourself when things go wrong
- thinking other people are better than you
- thinking you don’t deserve to have fun
- not accepting compliments
- avoiding challenges for fear of failing
- being overly upset by disapproval or criticism
- feeling sad, depressed, anxious, ashamed, angry or worthless
CHECK YOUR SYMPTOMS — Use the anxiety, stress and depression Symptom Checker and find out if you need to seek medical help.
What causes low self-esteem?
Low self-esteem may stem from experiences in early childhood. If you didn’t fit in at school, had difficulty meeting your parents’ expectations or were neglected or abused, this can lead a person to have negative core beliefs about themselves. These are ingrained beliefs a person has about themselves.
Teenagers, especially young girls, may be subject to unhelpful messages and ideals on social media and in the media generally, that lead them to believe that their worth is how they look or behave. This may lead to low self-esteem and negative thoughts about their self-worth. Performing poorly at school or being bullied can also cause low self-esteem.
Stressful life events, such as an unhappy relationship, a bereavement or serious illness, may also cause low self-esteem.
What are the effects of low self-esteem?
If you have low self-esteem you may have difficulty with relationships and problems at work or school. You may become very upset by criticism or disapproval and withdraw from activities and people. You may avoid doing anything where you may be judged or measured against other people.
Some people with low self-esteem stop looking after their appearance; others may over-compensate by always being perfectly groomed.
You could also have problems with your body image, drink too much alcohol or take drugs and you might not stand up for yourself when you are bullied or abused.
Teenagers with low self-esteem may use alcohol or drugs to feel better or to fit in, may have poor body image, and may have sexual activity earlier than their peers.
What health problems are associated with low self-esteem?
Low self-esteem may be associated with health problems such as depression and anxiety, eating disorders, social phobia, attention deficit disorder and substance abuse.
How to improve your self-esteem
To improve your self-esteem you can:
- think about things you are good at — what are your strengths?
- celebrate the small things in your life — give yourself a pat on the back when you achieve even a small thing
- challenge your negative thinking — look for alternative explanations and put things into perspective
- think about things you can change — don’t worry about things you can’t change
- avoid trying to do things perfectly — perfection is not possible
- stop beating yourself up if you make mistakes — everyone makes mistakes
- do things you enjoy — it’s easier to be positive when you are doing things you
- be with people who don’t bring you down
- volunteer to help people — this can make you feel better about yourself
- exercise — it can improve your mood
Resources and support
If your low self-esteem continues, talk to your doctor, a counsellor, a close friend or a member of your family.
You may want to seek advice from:
- MindSpot (anyone suffering from anxiety or depression) — call 1800 61 44 34
- Beyond Blue (anyone feeling depressed or anxious) — call 1300 22 4636 or chat online
- Black Dog Institute (people affected by depression and extreme mood swings) — online help
- Lifeline (anyone experiencing a crisis or thinking about suicide) — call 13 11 14 or chat online
- Suicide Call Back Service (anyone thinking about suicide) — call 1300 659 467
- ReachOut (online mental health services for young people and their parents)
- Headspace (mental health information, group chat, and online communities
- SANE Australia (mental health information, peer support and counselling support)
- MensLine Australia (telephone and online counselling service)
- Kids Helpline (telephone and online counselling for ages 5 to 25) — call 1800 55 1800
Last reviewed: October 2021