Thankfully, conversations about mental health are becoming more and more mainstream. One of the many misconceptions surrounding mental health is that it’s an adult topic when this is not the case in reality. We all have mental health, and people of all ages can struggle with mental health, whether or not they have a diagnosable mental health condition. So, as a parent, how do you start talking about mental health with your family?
Kids And Mental Health
Mental health is broader than one might think, and it consists of three main components or areas of wellbeing. Those components are emotional, psychological, and social health. It’s important for all of us to take care of our mental health as well as our physical health, and the two are deeply connected.
There are many reasons why it’s important to talk about mental health with kids. When we do, it’s more likely that they will have the tools to express their own emotions, extend empathy to others, talk about what they need when they’re struggling, learn coping skills, and more. Even the youngest of kids can experience strong emotions, and knowing how to express, explore, and navigate those feelings in a healthy way matters.
Depending on what comes up, talking about mental health can also decrease the stigma surrounding mental health conditions. After all, according to the CDC, 17.4% of children between the ages of 2 and 8 live with a mental, behavioral, or developmental disorder. Many mental health concerns and conditions are treatable, and early detection can be advantageous in many cases.
How To Start Talking About Mental Health With Kids
For many parents, the tough part is knowing how and when to start talking about mental health with kids. First, know that it’s never too soon to start talking about mental health. Using age-appropriate language that your child understands is the best way to go. You don’t need to necessarily open up a conversation with, “let’s talk about mental health,” either. While learning opportunities are near endless, here are some examples of scenarios that may prompt a natural conversation about mental health:
- When they’re sad, overwhelmed, or are experiencing another strong emotion.
- When your child’s friend goes through a tough time or has a hard day.
- When a character in a movie, book, or TV show experiences a strong emotion, has a tough conversation, or has a mental health condition.
- When you’re doing something for your own mental health.
There are a ton of organic opportunities to talk about mental health as it relates to daily life. It can be as simple as saying, “What are you feeling right now?” and validating your child’s emotions, providing real-life examples of empathy and compassion, or asking questions about how a favorite television character felt during a particular scene. If you’re struggling with your own mental health, it can be more challenging to open up – even to those closest to you, such as a partner or spouse. If you’re struggling with your own mental health or simply need a place to talk about life stress or something else that’s on your mind, a therapist or counselor can help.
Find A Therapist
Sometimes, the hard part isn’t wanting support but knowing where to look. There are a number of different ways to find a therapist who meets your needs. You can ask your doctor for a referral, contact your insurance company to see who they cover, search the web, or sign up for a reputable online therapy platform with licensed providers like BetterHelp. Online therapy is often more affordable than traditional in-person services are without insurance, and it’s an excellent way for busy parents to get quality care without taking the time to commute to a therapy center or private practice office. Regardless of how you find a therapist or counselor, you deserve to thrive. Don’t hesitate to take the first step and start your search today.
Marie Miguel Biography
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.
A professional writer with over a decade of incessant writing skills. Her topics of interest and expertise range from health, nutrition and psychology.