How to talk to your child about mental health

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As a parent, teacher or carer it’s vital to talk to your child about mental health, whether they suffer from a mental health condition or not. 

Establishing an open, ongoing and non-judgemental dialogue can help your child understand their own mental health and that of others. It can also help end any stigma or preconceptions they may have.

Here we’ll share some tips to help you talk to your child about mental health.


Do your research

Before you talk to your child about mental health, it’s helpful to do some research. Start by reading some information about common child mental health conditions. Make sure you understand the facts and are able to talk about the conditions without bias or judgement. 

It’s also useful to watch films about mental health or seek out real life examples of young people who suffer with common conditions. This can help build a realistic and accurate picture of how mental health conditions affect children.


Be sensitive

If your child suffers from a particular mental health issue, or you’re concerned about certain behaviours, sensitivity is key. 

Some children may feel upset to learn that they suffer from a mental health condition. Whilst others may be reluctant to accept their diagnosis or deny that they experience any symptoms. Be sensitive and try to avoid getting angry or frustrated with the child. 


Look after your own mental health

As an adult, if you suffer from a mental health issue, it’s critical that you get help to manage your own condition. If you’ve never really thought about or discussed your own mental health, it can be particularly challenging to talk to your child about theirs. 

Speaking openly will set a good example. It may even inspire your child to speak more freely about their own mental health or any concerns they have.


Did you know?

About one in ten children aged between five and sixteen are diagnosed with a problem every year and about 75% of mental illnesses are thought to start before the age of 25.

Sadly, it’s often the case that a child will go untreated with significant consequences to that young person’s life, to their family and community. By creating an open, ongoing dialogue, we can encourage children to adopt a healthy view of mental health. 

You can use our website to learn about common child mental health conditions, download free fact sheets, watch short information films and view real life experience films about mental health.