Tips On How Kids And Young Adults Can Talk To Their Parents About Mental Health

For those of us who deal with mental health issues, it can be difficult to talk about our experiences. The stigma can be horrible. Many people treat mental illness as some kind of character flaw. Those affected sometimes even find ways to make the disease be their own fault.

Some of these diseases first show up in adolescence. This part of a person’s life can be very stressful because there are so many transitions occurring at that stage. We’re going to college or graduating and trying to find jobs.

It can be hard to talk about these issues to parents because many parents don’t want to imagine their child with a mental illness.

Here are a few tips for you if you are struggling with this issue.

Make It Clear That You Are Struggling And Need Help

Your anxiety and/or depression can make it more difficult to express your feelings. You might be experiencing utter chaos in your brain. Your thoughts may be racing, or difficult to hang onto. This is a symptom.

Your parents don’t necessarily need to understand everything that you are dealing with, but they need to understand that you need help.

Psychologist Jamie Howard said:

“What’s important is that your parents know that you’re not well and need to see a professional, even if they don’t grasp the nitty gritty of it.”


For both patients and parents, these are the most common symptoms of depression:

  • You may be feeling sad and/or irritable.
  • You feel lots of guilt.
  • You have trouble getting out of bed and/or taking care of yourself.
  • You may be completely apathetic.
  • You don’t feel any emotion at all.

Anxiety has its own set of symptoms:

  • It usually involves some form of obsessive thoughts.
  • It can also cause problems with concentration and memory.
  • A panic/anxiety attack can cause:
    • Accelerated heart rate
    • Sweating
    • Trouble breathing

These are just some of the possible symptoms. Everyone affected presents with different symptoms.

Telling Your Parents

It may help if you sit down and plan what you are going to say. Make sure to focus on how these symptoms are impacting your life.

If you are so anxious about going to school that you have panic attacks, or if you are so depressed that you can’t get out of bed, tell your parents. Also, you definitely need to tell someone if you are having any more serious symptoms. If you are hallucinating, or if you are paranoid, or if you suddenly become super forgetful, tell someone immediately.

These types of symptoms could be signs of schizophrenia. Schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder can start in the late teens, but can be diagnosed into your early 20s and as late as your 30s. I was 23 when mine started.

There are several reactions that your parents may have. Here are some common tactics that they may employ to dismiss you:

1. Guilt-Tripping

They may say things like:

“You have the best life!”

“You don’t have anything to be depressed about!”

A possible response could be:

“That’s why I need help!”

I still feel depressed anyway; this is so much more than that.”

2. Minimizing The Situation

They may say things like:

“Everyone feels stress!”

“Everyone gets anxious!”

Here is a good response:

“This is way more than that!”

Tell them specific ways that these symptoms are affecting your life.

3. Making It About Them

Your parents may go a different route and say something like:

“I failed as a parent!”

“I can’t raise a happy kid!”

You should say something like:

“It’s not your fault.”

These are real diseases. I have unbalanced brain chemicals.”

There are many unseen symptoms that people without mental illnesses don’t always understand. Some of us need to sleep more. We need to keep our emotions in check. Many of us have to learn to fight the obsessive thoughts we are experiencing.

Check out this list of famous people with mental health struggles. You can recover and do whatever you want to do in your life.

If you are feeling suicidal, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline1-800-273-8255.

There is also a Crisis Text Line if you would rather text someone: texting “START” to 741-741.

Here is a list of crisis numbers for other countries.

Always remember that you are never alone. There are support groups and counselors and facilities you can use. Go to your school counselor. Go to a friend. You don’t need to suffer anymore. You can recover.

Here is a video targeted to teenagers:

Featured Image Via Twitter.


Hi, I'm from Huntsville, AL. I'm a Liberal living in the Bible Belt, which can be quite challenging at times. I'm passionate about many issues including mental health, women's rights, gay rights, and many others. Check out my blog