It’s often difficult to talk about issues surrounding mental health, making it all too easy to avoid bringing the topic up in conversation. However, as more and more teenagers and young adults struggle with mental health issues, it’s no longer an option to refrain from discussing them.
While you may feel uncomfortable at first, it’s natural to talk to your children about their mental health, and once you get the conversation started, you may be surprised by how well it goes.
Use the Correct Terminology
It’s important to use the correct terminology when talking to your kids about mental health and wellness. Psychology and psychiatry have improved their terms used to describe mental health conditions, and it’s a good idea to follow their lead.
For instance, instead of telling your child that he or she has “the blues,” which is an outdated, imprecise term, use the term “depression.” Try to avoid unhelpful language like, “hysterical”, “crazy”, or other terms that make people feel bad or worse. Using this terminology can be awkward, at first, but embracing the awkward can go a long way towards making the mental health conversation lighter-hearted and easier to discuss.
Normalize Mental Health Language
You wouldn’t tell a child with the flu to get over it, so don’t tell a child struggling with a mental health issue to get over it. Normalizing mental health language will help you avoid making teenagers or young adults with mental health issues feel like it’s their fault that they’re struggling or that something is wrong with them.
This Is an Ongoing Conversation
Make talking about mental health a part of everyday conversation. It’s hard to talk to your children about their mental health, but don’t avoid the topic. Mental health changes and develops, making it necessary to have regular conservations. If this becomes a consistent part of your language with your teen, it won’t feel as uncomfortable.
Get Help Where Needed
Even if you follow all the guidelines above, your child may still need professional help to achieve total wellness. Don’t be embarrassed or afraid to seek help outside of what you can personally provide. Whether it’s group therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, family therapy, or something else, find a way to help your child. Therapy is often stigmatized, but this stigma does far more harm than good.
Mental health isn’t an easy topic to discuss with your kids, but it’s a significant one. When having these conversations, it’s important to use the correct terminology, talk often and get help when needed. The hardest part is getting started. Once you have that first conversation, it’ll get easier.
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