WHEN SHOULD I TALK TO MY TEEN?
WHAT DO I SAY?
We all have mental health.
Bad days are part of being human.
Speak up if you’re having problems.
Be critical of stereotypes.
- Anxiety that seems out of control or extreme given the situation
- Low mood that lasts for a long time or frequent tearfulness
- Unusually high mood, racing thoughts or ideas
- Hopelessness, worthlessness, or talk of death or wanting to escape
- Excessive irritability or anger
- Changes in eating, weight, or sleeping patterns
- Self-injury (such as cutting)
- Sensations (such as hearing voices) that aren’t real
- Strange beliefs that can’t possibly be true
- Difficulties remembering information or making decisions
IF A TEEN COMES TO YOU WITH MENTAL HEALTH CONCERNS
- Take their concerns seriously. It might be easy to dismiss a teenager’s concerns as ‘just hormones’ or ‘just another part of growing up,’ but that isn’t helpful. Even if you can’t relate to the problem, you can still express concerns about your teen’s worry or distress.
- Take time to listen—without judgment. If you’re in the middle of something else, find a time later in the day when you can talk and give your full attention. Don’t judge what you hear. Just listen and be there.
Ask your teen what they need. They might already have a good idea of the next steps they’d like to take.
Don’t worry about having all the answers right away. This can be an opportunity to learn together.
Offer alternatives. It can be difficult for some teens to talk with their parents about some subjects. Give additional places to seek support, such as a school counsellor, another family member, a local mental health or youth organization, a website, or a phone line.
Talk about safe situations to share personal details. It’s very hard to take information back once it’s posted on social media or shared with others, so encourage your teen to think about safe places to talk and seek support.
Seek outside help if you need to. Your family doctor is a great place to start. They may be able to assess problems and provide treatment. They will also refer your teen to specialized mental health services if needed. Your teen’s school counsellors can also help. They can offer supports at school, and they can refer your teen to resources in the community.