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Parents would naturally want to protect their children from harm and keep track of their physical health and well-being. However, the conversation of mental health can be a bit of a struggle, as it can feel uncomfortable or even taboo. But as a parent, it’s a crucial conversation to have to support your children's emotional and psychological well-being, and not just their physical health or their future career.
Tips and strategies for talking to a child about mental health must be discussed with parents, and they should start this conversation especially in a safe and supportive way. Parents must know how to create a safe environment for discussion, communicate in age-appropriate ways, share your own experiences on mental health care, and teach their children that it’s normal to seek professional help.
By definition, mental health refers to someone’s overall emotional, psychological, and social well-being. A mentally healthy person means how they think, feel, and behave are non-destructive and non-excessive. Ranging from mild to severe, mental health concerns impact both children and adults.
Some of the more common mental health concerns in children include anxiety, depression, ADHD, and behavioural disorders. It should be normalized among children to seek help for mental health issues, just as they would for physical health issues. Talking about mental health openly and without stigma can help reduce shame and encourage children to seek help when they need it.
A child’s mental health should be of utmost importance to a parent, as it lays the foundation for their overall well-being and future success. Their academic achievement, social relationships, and emotional development all mostly depend on how good their mental health is. In this light, children who experience mental health issues are more likely to struggle academically, exhibit behavioral problems, and have difficulties forming healthy relationships.
It’s important to note that untreated mental health challenges during childhood can persist into adulthood, affecting any person’s ability to lead a fulfilling and productive life. As parents, you have a responsibility to recognize the signs of poor mental health among your children and provide appropriate support and intervention. By prioritizing your children's mental health, you set them up for a good future where they can reach their potential and live their lives to the fullest.
Some parents aren’t very open or even dismissive when it comes to mental health. Remember that when talking to your child about mental health, it’s important that you create a safe and comfortable environment for discussion. Here are some tips for creating this environment:
Sometimes, communicating about mental health with children of different ages can be challenging and even confusing, but here are some guidelines for discussing mental health with children of different ages:
Sharing your own experiences with mental health can help your child feel less alone and more comfortable talking about their own mental health. Here are some tips for sharing your story:
Finally, it’s important to know when to seek professional help for your child's mental health. Here are some signs that your child may need professional help:
If you notice any of these signs, it is important to seek help from a mental health professional. You can start by talking to your child's pediatrician, school counsellor, or family doctor. They can provide a referral to a mental health professional who specializes in working with children and adolescents.
There are also several resources available in Canada for parents seeking mental health support for their children. The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) offers resources and information for parents on children's mental health. Kids Help Phone provides 24/7 confidential support and counselling for children and teenagers.
Another resource is Archways Centre for CBT, which provides evidence-based cognitive and behavioural therapy (CBT) across the lifespan. Archways Centre for CBT offers services for children and youth, including therapy for anxiety, depression, and behavioural concerns.
Our team of experienced therapists utilizes evidence-based approaches to help children and youth develop coping skills and reduce symptoms of mental health concerns. If you're seeking support for your child's mental health, Archways Centre for CBT is a good first step.
Seeking help for mental health concerns is a sign of strength and can make a significant difference in your child's life. Let's start the conversation today and prioritize our children's mental health and contact us at (519) 472–6612.