Mental health is not a one-time discussion; conversations between children and parents should evolve and grow. Nobody should have to struggle in silence. Here are some simple tips to keeping an open dialogue with your kids and talking about mental health.
Three simple tips for parents
- Encourage openness: Encourage your child to come to you with issues, and remind them that nothing they could say would make you love them less; explicitly tell them that you're always ready to hear what is going on in their lives.
- Connect them with resources: Accept that your child may not turn to you with every issue they face. Let them know that there are other adults they can trust, like teachers, guidance counsellors, doctors and places like Kids Help Phone where they can go for help.
- Set a good example: It's okay to admit you're feeling tired, grumpy, or upset after work, it is important for kids to understand that everyone goes through tough times, even parents.
Three simple tips for kids
- Strong feelings are okay: Every one has intense feelings sometimes. Even if you don't feel comfortable going to your parents right away, there are people available to help. Teachers, counsellors, doctors and places like Kids Help Phone are always there.
- There are ways to manage your feelings: Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it's a sign of strength and resourcefulness. Reach out to the person you think is best able to help, and tell them how you want to be supported
- . Keep talking until somebody listens: It is very frustrating to feel as if people (especially your parents) do not understand what you are saying. Do not let that frustration stop you from talking to someone else, until you feel heard and supported.
For the child who is not ready to talk, a wealth of kid-friendly, age appropriate information is available at kidshelpphone.ca, Kid's Help Phone's interactive website. By visiting the site with the young people in their lives, parents and teachers can start a conversation on the challenges youth are facing today, and together get to know the resources and tips that are clinically endorsed by Canada's leading online and phone counselling service for youth.
The RBC poll showed that while parents generally agree that the biggest issue facing children with mental illness is not stigma but access to information and services, most still believe that the stigma is significant enough to warrant a way to access information on the subject anonymously.