TORONTO, Oct. 3, 2012 /CNW/ - More than half of Canadian parents (53 per cent) have never discussed their children's mental health with anyone, according to the 2012 RBC Children's Mental Health Parents Poll. Most of these parents (65 per cent) assume their child would come to them if they had a problem - but they may not be correct.
Children are more likely to confide in friends (50 per cent) about their mental health concerns rather than their mother (30 per cent), a health professional (22 per cent) or father (10 per cent), according to a companion online poll of 115 youth who visited the Kids Help Phone website, Canada's leading online and phone counselling service for youth. Among the 45 per cent of parents who have talked about their children's mental health with someone, only half (49 per cent) have talked about it with their child.
"Many parents and children don't discuss mental health concerns, such as how a child is feeling or behaving. In my daily practice, I've seen how lack of communication leads to missed warning signs," said Dr. Ian Manion, psychologist, executive director of the Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health and an advisor to the RBC Children's Mental Project. "Kids who suffer in silence can obsess over simple issues that can quickly become unmanageable. Parents who have regular conversations with their children about feelings and behaviour are more likely to identify potential concerns early and help their child more effectively."
When parents were asked to whom they expect their child would speak about a mental health concern, 63 per cent indicated it would be themselves, 34 per cent said the other parent, followed by friends (23 per cent), a teacher (19 per cent), or a grandparent (18 per cent). Parents who have talked about their children's mental health issue are more likely to have confided in a spouse or partner (74 per cent), a doctor (64 per cent) or teacher (56 per cent).