Though mental health awareness has gotten a big push in the media over the course of the last few years, it’s still a topic that many parents find hard to bring up with their growing children. If you have a teen at home, though, you should be setting an example for how to discuss mental health issues. Doing so will not only inform the attitudes that your teen takes into their adult years, but it will also give them a chance to know that you’re there if they are struggling.
Normalize Talking about Mental Health
The first and perhaps most important thing to do is to normalize the concept of struggling with one’s mental health. Though you may not have any particular struggles that you can point to, it’s vital that you let your teen know that many people do struggle with their mental health and that doing so is not a mark of weakness or a sign of bad character. Instead, it’s merely another health issue that needs proper care.
This discussion can and should be a dialog. While you may be giving your teen information, you should be prepared to listen to their questions and let your teen direct at least part of the conversation. If you are unsure of any answers to their inquiries, make sure to consult trusted online resources or to make an appointment with a mental health professional so that you can gather the correct information.
Create a System to Communicate Mental Struggles
It’s also a good idea to create a system for letting your teen talk to you about their own struggles. While they might not feel comfortable revealing everything, creating a system that allows your teen to express their general feelings will allow for more communication and might enable them to better track their mood. With a good system in place, you can notice trends and determine if any kind of intervention is necessary.
Don’t be afraid to talk to your teen about mental health issues. Doing so not only helps to keep them safe now, but will have an impact as they grow up. With the proper discussions now, you can prepare your teen for a healthier life in the future.