Talking to your parents about your mental health can be a huge step in the path to recovery. But it can be very difficult. Many people recognize that they need help with a mental health issue but aren't sure how to get the help they need. Talking to parents ends up usually being the first step. In my own experience, I've found that talking to your parents isn't easy as it sounds. Teens are often scared to mention their problems to their parents and end up saying they are fine. Some kids do not tell their parents because they don’t yet realize they need help. Often others get very scared about what will happen if they tell their parents. They think their parents will think they're weird, will judge them, won't understand. Some kids suffer from anxiety which makes talking to their parents even harder.
I was always anxious about telling my parents because even I didn't understand what I was going through. How was I supposed to explain it to them if even I didn’t know what I was feeling? When I finally decided to talk to my parents about what I was going through, it felt like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. I didn’t have to feel alone anymore. I had trusted adults that knew the situation and wanted to get me help. After I told my parents, we worked together to talk to my therapist and psychiatrist. I started a new medication and went back to therapy every week instead of once every couple of weeks. Now, I’m doing a lot better. It is hard to talk to parents about mental health. It’s a lot more challenging then one would expect. It helped me to have some ideas and tips in mind on how to talk to them before going to them for help.
Plan out exactly what you'll say
Before you go to talk to your parents, plan out what you want to say to them. Come up with a few major talking points. For example, you can talk about your symptoms, the effect on your daily life, and the severity of your issue. This will help you so you don’t get overwhelmed trying to say too much information but still get out what you want to say.
Think of ways your parents could react
Think of possible reactions from your parents. This will help you so you don't become overwhelmed and upset. If you expect one reaction and get another, you will most likely be disappointed and not want to talk to them. Parents will often react with fear and assume the worst. Don't be surprised if they ask you about suicidal thoughts. If you're experiencing suicidal thoughts, tell them. But if not, assure them. Other ways parents can react is by blaming themselves. Some parents will talk about how they have "failed as a parent" and in that case, explain that it is not their fault. Explain that your family or school environment might need to change. Parents can also react by trying to minimize the situation. They will say "all teenagers feel this way" or that "it's hormones." You must explain to them that it is more than that. Make them listen to you.
Pick a time ideal for everyone.
Try to talk to your parents when both them and you are okay. If you try to talk to your parents while you are upset, they might minimize your feelings. Talk to them during a time when you have their undivided attention. They will be more likely to listen and try to understand.
Have a counsellor relay the message
If you find it impossible to talk to your parents, talk to your school counsellor, teacher, or a trusted adult. If you don't want your parents to know yet, talking to your counsellor is a
great resource. It is a way to talk out some of the things you are feeling. If you tell your parents how you feel, and they dismiss it as "being a teenager" telling your counsellor can help. If your parents hear that others are concerned for your health, they'll be very likely to listen to them. Your counsellor can tell your parents how you feel and follow up with them to make sure you get the help you need.
I hope these tips helped you out on trying to talk to your parents about your mental health concerns. Remember that you are not alone. Not being ready to talk to your parents doesn’t mean you have to fight this battle alone. There are dozens of resources you can reach out to for help. Stay strong. I believe in you.
Teenagers With Experience is an organisation created to provide teenagers worldwide with an online platform to share their own experiences to be able to help, inform and educate others on a variety of different topics. We aim to provide a safe space to all young people. You can contact us via email, social media or our contact form found on our home page.