Talking to a parent about mental health can be scary for lots of reasons. Maybe you don’t know how they will react or you think that they already have enough to worry about. Maybe you feel like they are part of the problem, or you just don’t know what to say.
Here are some tips to help you prepare for that talk.
Know What You Want from the Conversation
It takes maturity to figure out what you want to get out of a conversation. Most often you'll probably want the adults in your life to do one or more of these things:
- listen and understand what you're going through without offering advice or commentary
- offer you advice or help
- guide you back on track if you're in trouble — in a way that's fair and helpful
If you can think about this before you begin talking, then you can say why you want to talk in a way that communicates what you need. For example:
- "Mam, I need to tell you about a problem I'm having, but I need you to just listen, OK? Don't give me advice — I just want you to know what's going on."
Identify Your Feelings
Things like sadness or anxiety are difficult to discuss with anyone, let alone a parent. It's normal to be nervous when talking about sensitive topics.
Recognize how you're feeling — for example, maybe you're worried that telling parents about a problem will make them disappointed or sad. But instead of letting those feelings stop you from talking, put them into words as part of the conversation. For example:
- "Mam, I need to talk to you — but I'm afraid I'll upset you."
- "Dad, I need to talk to you about something — but it's hard for me."
Pick a Good Time to Talk
Approach your parent when he or she isn't busy with something else. Wait until things are calm and you know that they have time to really listen. Driving in the car or going for a walk can be great opportunities to talk. If it's hard to find the right time, ask, "I need to talk to you. When can we chat?"
Fail to prepare, prepare to fail. If you find it hard to get the words out, try writing down your feelings in a note or text first. It may help you to express yourself without getting upset.
If you would like professional support with anything you are going through turn2me provides free, confidential online supports for young people and adults in the Republic of Ireland.
- Peer support - A free and safe space where you can find and give support by connecting with other people who have been through similar experiences.
- Group support -Facilitated by a mental health professional, support groups are a safe space to connect with others and share solutions and coping strategies on a variety of mental health topics.
- Counselling - Support for whatever you are going through, this is a safe space to talk with a professional counsellor to help you understand your feelings and work together to develop the tools you need to get through tough times.