How to Tell Your Child about Mental Illness

How to Tell Your Child about Mental Illness (1)

It might be awkward to discuss sensitive subjects with your child, such as their mental health. This might be because of the associated stigma, a lack of knowledge, or even worries about being held accountable.

Speaking about other medical issues, such food allergies, asthma, or diabetes, may seem lot simpler. These illnesses are usually better understood, easier to diagnose with medical testing, and rarely seen as the result of personal responsibility.

All too often, people accuse those who are struggling with mental health issues of not trying hard enough or of doing something incorrectly. Because of this, we may believe that our child’s mental health issues are our responsibility or that it is our fault altogether.

Conversely, having honest conversations with your kids is an excellent approach to lessen this stigma. It can be difficult to know where to begin, so let’s look at some constructive approaches to discussing your kids’ mental health.

Draw A Comparison With A Medical Issue

Youngsters frequently hear about their health issues. They are aware that dust, pets, cold weather, and exercise might cause their lungs and airways to constrict if they have asthma. They are aware of how painful their wheezing is, so they take medicine to relieve the symptoms and stay away from circumstances that might set off an episode.

In a similar vein, you may explain to your child that mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, OCD, ADHD, and other diseases are medical ailments that originate in the brain. The brain functions as the body’s “central headquarters,” regulating emotions, ideas, and actions. Like other physical issues, the brain can occasionally become “knocked off balance,” but like other conditions, treatment can help patients learn how to handle this. Treatment options include behavioral support and medication (stress reduction, relaxation, psychotherapies, etc.).

Give Them Detailed Justifications

When given a clear explanation, children are better able to comprehend mental health difficulties. Here’s an illustration of how you may justify panic attacks:

If a car was about to strike you while you were crossing the street, you would probably leap out of the path, feel afraid, feel your pulse beating, feel lightheaded, or hyperventilate (breathe too quickly). This is all a typical fight-or-flight reaction to an actual threat of harm. Similar mental and physical responses can occur during a panic attack, but there isn’t a car that is about to strike you. Even while this might sound frightening, there are strategies for handling it.

Panic attacks frequently occur in “normal” circumstances, such driving, traveling in a car, using elevators, and attending school, among other non-dangerous scenarios. You would most certainly link such locations with panic if you suffered from panic disorder. To put it another way, your brain would react as though a negative event was imminent, maybe even just by imagining certain scenarios.

Pay attention to them and affirm their experiences.

Due to the stigma that is frequently associated with mental health issues, kids may be embarrassed to discuss their anxieties, compulsions, impulsivity, obsessions, and other behavioral issues. Have a conversation with them about their experiences. Carefully listen to them and show empathy for them.

Informing your youngster about other people who deal with comparable issues might be beneficial. Explain to your youngster that you or someone else they trusts has mental health issues in the same manner as you would with diabetes. They are not alone in feeling this way, and these things may run in families. It may be really comforting if you or a family member can talk to your child about their own mental health and coping mechanisms.

Make Certain They Understand It’s Not Their Fault

Many kids with mental health issues may believe that their illness is their fault or that it is an inescapable aspect of who they are as a person or of their personality. Misinformation and stigma frequently serve to perpetuate these emotions. You can assist them in realizing that mental health issues are widespread and do not indicate a personal failing. In order to prevent them from viewing their mental health issue as the most significant aspect of who they are, highlight their positive traits.

  • Engage in Talks Frequently

Many mental health issues are regarded as intermittent, meaning that their intensity can change with age, stress level, and other variables, as well as how frequently they manifest. Talking with others about the feelings, ideas, and actions that are a part of your child’s illness from the first is beneficial.

As they mature, get older, and have a deeper understanding of their disease, your kid will view you as a reliable resource they may turn to in the event of a relapse or the emergence of new symptoms. Keeping the lines of communication open and understanding can be crucial, even though it’s not always simple. Engaging in a conversation with your child on their experiences is the most effective method to detect any emerging problems and guarantee they receive the appropriate care and assistance.

  • Allow them to Query You

It will be comforting to be upfront with children and provide them with information about how therapy and/or medicine can help, since they likely have many questions regarding their symptoms and treatment. If you are not fully informed, schedule a meeting with your child’s mental health physician to talk through the issues and address any questions they may have. It’s acceptable to admit you don’t know the solution when your child asks a question; then, you may collaborate with them to discover one.

  • Don’t Forget the Family

A mental health issue ought not to be kept a secret. If their grandparents, siblings, or other family members are aware of it, can discuss it with them, and accept it, your child could feel more at ease. After all, they would accept any other medical condition, like diabetes, right? Being transparent in this way really aids in avoiding emotions of guilt or loneliness.

  • Address Prevention And Self-Care.

The intricate interplay of biology, psychology, and environmental variables results in mental health disorders. Relapses can be avoided and symptoms can be lessened by teaching your kid self-care techniques including eating a balanced diet, exercising frequently, practicing meditation, and getting enough sleep.

  • Never Fear Inquiring About Suicide

Suicidal thoughts and suicide deaths among young people have grown in recent years. Many parents and other adults are reluctant to inquire about a child’s intentions, ideas, or plans about suicide. Although there is no evidence to support this theory, they could be scared that initiating the conversation would lead to suicidal thoughts or actions. 


It’s difficult to have a conversation with your child about their mental health issues. But you are more than capable of striking up a conversation. If your child is facing any kind of mental health problem, you can choose TalktoAngel. They have highly qualified and experienced online counsellors that can help your child to overcome problem and live a healthy and fruitful life. 

Also check – Ergonomics and Mental Health

Do you want to read informative blogs? We have got you covered. Check out our collection of informative blogs and start an interesting journey today!