It’s difficult to talk about your mental health at the best of times but when it comes to telling your parents about a suspected problem you may have, it’s not uncommon to completely freeze up. It may be that you think your parents won’t understand or that they won’t believe you. The stigma surrounding mental illness often stops people from speaking up about their problems, leaving many issues undiagnosed and people struggling as a result.
If you suspect something’s up with your mental health, here are a few tips to take on board before you approach your parents…
1. It’s fine to ask for help
First things first, is to understand that it’s totally fine to ask for help. Your parents are your support network and they can’t help unless they know what’s up. If you can’t tell your parents for whatever reason, these tips can be applied to any other adult that you choose to confide in…
2. Pick a good time that works for everybody
So, as with any serious conversation, it’s really important that you pick a good time to sit down and talk. There’s no point grabbing your parents first thing in the morning when everyone’s in a rush. Choose a time when you can sit down and talk things through thoroughly, that way you can be sure that you have their full attention.
3. Explain what’s been going on
Sometimes it helps to just explain how you’ve been feeling lately. Don’t lead with suspected diagnoses, that’s a bit overwhelming and could also come across as dramatic (even if its accurate). You could say something like “Lately, I haven’t really been feeling like myself…” and then explain further what you mean. All too often, teenagers and those under 25 get overlooked when voicing concerns about their mental health – it’s not uncommon to put complications down to ‘teen angst’ or ‘hormones’ and in some cases, this can be the cause. However, if you think this is an unfair diagnosis, don’t be afraid to contest it – your mental health is way too important, so stand your ground if you’re really concerned.
4. Keep track with journals or diaries
It helps to keep track of your feelings over a period of time. This way you have something to back up what you’re saying, check out this article for handy tips on how to track your mental health. Just like with bullying, if you keep a record of how it makes you feel, people tend to take you more seriously when you bring an issue to their attention. Remember that no one wants you to feel bad, especially your parents, so it’s really just about getting them to understand the true extent of it.
5. What happens next
Next up is to explain what you want to do about it. It’s all well and good telling your parents about your concerns but if you’re not clear about what you want them to do, then they might not know how to help you best. If you want to see a doctor, say it. If you want to see a counsellor, say that too. If you’re unsure what you need to do, then simply say that you need their help and advice.
6. How can your parents help you?
Well, there are loads of ways to support someone who may be dealing with mental illness, but the most important is to understand. Understanding goes a long way in helping the person dealing with mental health issues and it’s important that the people closest to you get it. The best way to reduce mental health stigma is to gain a wider understanding of what mental illness is, only then will we be able to eradicate stigmas and negative stereotypes.
7. Other resources available to you
Remember that there are loads of services available for you to use if you need extra help or advice: