3 Tips for Discussing Mental Health With Your Child

Mental health is just as important as physical wellness. As a parent, your child’s well-being is your priority, but certain illnesses can be easier to diagnose and cope with than others. Mental health concerns, such as depression and anxiety, may be particularly challenging. If you think your child could benefit from anxiety or depression treatment, here are three tips for starting a conversation with them about their mental health.

How to Talk to Children About Anxiety or Depression Treatment

1. Take Baby Steps

Anxiety symptoms such as trouble breathing, dizziness, and seemingly irrational fears are difficult for a parent to process. Signs like fatigue, difficulty sleeping, and withdrawal, which often denote depression, are no easier to talk about. If you’ve never discussed mental health with your child before, it may take a few conversations before they open up. Be patient and take baby steps rather than going all-in at once.

For example, you might broach the topic after watching a movie featuring a character with a mental illness or hearing a song that touches on depression. You can also step in if you hear your child or someone else using derogatory terms to discuss mental health, such as “crazy” or “insane.” If your child doesn’t open up to you or stops doing so, it’s also essential to know when to enlist professional help from a child psychiatrist.

Depositphotos 49177281 L 2015.oqpw8mkkj2. Be Honest & Transparent

Mental illnesses, including depression and anxiety, tend to run in families. If you’ve faced challenges with your mental health, share this with your child.

Talking openly about the subject can diminish some stigmas surrounding it and demonstrate to your child that you empathize with them. This also provides an opportunity to share coping strategies, including therapy, meditation, yoga, medications, and other depression treatment options that have helped you in your journey.

3. Don’t Sugarcoat It

Discussing mental illnesses can be scary, particularly when the conversation touches on self-harm or suicide. Some parents are wary of bringing up such topics because they’re afraid it could put ideas in their child’s head. However, avoiding the subject may backfire. Most of the time, kids and teens who have such thoughts want to talk about them but feel ashamed or afraid, deepening feelings of isolation and despair. Offering them an avenue to discuss these thoughts can provide relief and comfort.

Even if your child has not had such notions, they may appreciate knowing they can come to you for help if they ever do. If you’re concerned your child is a risk to themselves or others, don’t hesitate to seek professional treatment right away.


If you’re a  parent in Louisiana seeking anxiety or depression treatment for your child, turn to PTI. We are a statewide mental healthcare system providing timely access to psychiatrists, psychologists, and therapists who are proud to help children and families regain and maintain control of their mental health. Call (225) 751-5412 to speak with a helpful staff member to schedule a virtual appointment through our Virtual Psych Network. Visit our website to learn more about the organization and the help they will offer your child.