Tips to Talking Mental Health with Your Teen / Child

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with a mental health issue, you know firsthand how the diagnosis can impact your life. Mental illness is not only Gifted mom with mental illness telling her son and trying to lighten the mood by holding him and smiling.challenging for adults to understand but children as well. With so many myths and misconceptions surrounding mental illness, it’s easy for young people to feel anxious and confused.

With this in mind, here are some tips on how you can speak to your child about mental health.

Be Open

Your child is most likely noticing a change or difference in behavior from mom, dad, or another relative with mental illness. There is no point in keeping it a secret. Be open about the diagnosis and give the illness a name (depression, bipolar disorder…). Doing so will help alleviate some fear and insecurities as well as clear up any incorrect assumptions.

Hispanic young father with dark hair sits in a counseling session with his hand over his face feeling guilty about mental illness.Alleviate Fault or Responsibility

Most kids naturally feel they want to help fix mommy or daddy, or they may feel something they did caused their loved one to not be well.

Reassure your child and explain that the illness is not their fault nor their responsibility.

Invite Their Honesty

While you may feel you need to keep a stiff upper lip for your spouse or loved one’s benefit, your kids should feel free to openly express their feelings, whether these feelings be fear, sadness, or anger. Listen to whatever they say without judging what they say.

Invite Questions

Your kids will have a lot of them, so invite them to ask. If they don’t feel comfortable asking questions face-to-face, use a journal. They can write down any questions they want, and you’ll write the answer and give it back to them. Knowing they can come to you and that you are still the parent will give them a much-needed sense of calm and security.

Communicate at a Level that is Age AppropriateMental illness with Asian toddler girl in dress with red bow sitting next to mom in red dress on outdoor swing with light blue cushion.

Preschool-age children will need different language than teenagers. They will need less details, whereas older children will want more details. School-age children will take the information shared and begin to worry what it means for them and the family. Be prepared to answer many questions concerning their safety and security.

And teenagers are a unique bunch – you will have to follow your teen’s lead. Some may speak openly, already aware to a certain extent about mental health issues. Some may seem withdrawn and not speak much at all. You will want to continue to check in with them to make sure they are doing okay.

Talking to your kids about mental health won’t be easy. As long as you follow these tips, however, you will have an opportunity to share important information and offer love, support, and guidance.

Are you having difficulty parenting your gifted child, and need the guidance of a licensed professional? Call my office at your earliest convenience, and let’s set up an appointment to talk. https://welcomehomefamilytherapy.com/family-therapy-for-gifted-children/

Contact Abby:

Engaged family therapist leaning in on kitchen counter, giving positive regard for progress.Helping families feel connected is at the core of my Family Therapy practice. Should you feel like your family might benefit from family counseling to increase your family connections and decrease family conflicts with a gifted child in the home, you have come to the right place! Click here, to contact me via email, or feel free to give me a call at (626) 755-4059 for a FREE 20-minute, Initial Phone Consultation. I meet alone with parents in my Arcadia office for the first session. It is important for us to have a good fit before you introduce me to your children. In-Home Family Therapy (Home-Based Family Counseling) is an option to families living in Pasadena, Glendale and Arcadia, California, as well as the surrounding areas of the San Gabriel Valley. I have completed training from SENG (Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted) and am a certified SENG Parent Support Group Facilitator. You will find my professional listing with SENG here. Please feel free to find out more about me on my Family Trauma Therapy page. You can also explore my CredentialsServices, and Rates.  LGBTQIA+ affirming therapy is a core value of my practice. My style shines through in my blog, Connected Family Fun, LA., where I share ways to have fun with the family while making deeper connections. Let's connect!