How to Talk to Children About Mental Health

Talking to Your Kids About Mental Health

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), more than 43 million American adults experience mental illness in a given year—although this mental health crisis is generally thought of as an adult issue, it is also impacting children and adolescents.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 4.4 million children aged 3-17 have been diagnosed with anxiety, and about 1.9 million have been diagnosed with depression. With such high statistics, parents and guardians to pay attention to their children’s behaviors and mental health needs.

Knowing how to talk to your children about mental health is extremely important. Here are some tips to help you to start the conversation.

Ask Questions

Whether your child seems to be struggling with their mental health or not, asking questions about their lives and experiences each day can help your child feel more comfortable talking to you when there is an issue. “What was the best part of your day?” and “Tell me about your day” are good questions to ask to avoid simple, one-word answers.

Model Positive Behavior

Young children often mimic the behaviors of their parents and guardians. By freely communicating about your thoughts, feelings, and the importance of mental health, your child will feel less intimidated to do the same.

Talk about Yourself

If you have mental health issues, you can start by being transparent about how you maintain yours in an age-appropriate way. Whether you see a therapist, take medication, or practice meditation—sharing how you take care of your mental health can help the conversation along.

Set A Time And Place To Talk

When you’re trying to open the lines of communication with your child and getting them to confide in you, you should pick a place to talk where they would feel most comfortable. By choosing a quiet, private location that is void of distractions, it should put both you and your child at ease when initiating the conversation.

Behaviors to Look Out For

As a parent, you know your child best—if you notice any behavioral changes that aren’t typical behavior for your child, you should contact a mental health professional to discuss them further.

If you notice any of the following changes in your child, it may indicate that they may have a mental health issue:

  • Acting out

  • Lack of energy

  • Loss of interest in friends and activities

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Forgetfulness

  • Trouble sleeping

  • Loss of appetite

  • Self-harm

  • Substance abuse

Seeking Help at Tapestry

At Tapestry, our treatment programs are dedicated to understanding our clients as whole people with varied life experiences. Whether you have questions about mental health or how to support a loved one struggling with their mental health, we are here for you. Contact us today by filling out a confidential form or give us a call at (844) 299-1343.