The Ellie Blog

Mental health tips and insights

Teenage girl talking to her parent about mental health

How To Talk to Your Parents About Your Mental Health

If you’re struggling with your mental health, it can be very difficult to tell someone else how you feel. And even if you’ve been able to share that you’re having a hard time with a friend or another adult you trust, you might be reluctant to open up to your parents.

You might feel afraid that they won’t understand how you feel or downplay the seriousness of what’s going on. On the other hand, if you share that you’re experiencing depression, anxiety, or other concerning mental health symptoms, you might be anxious that they’ll overact or treat you differently.

No one should have to deal with their mental health alone, and you might not quite understand why you feel the way you do. Therapy can make a big difference in helping you navigate mental health issues, stress, grief, or difficult life situations. Depending on your home situation, telling your parents what you’ve been experiencing can free you to get the help you need. When we keep things inside and feel we have to hide how we really feel, it can feel freeing to finally get it out in the open.

Do you want to get support in your mental health journey but aren’t sure how to start? Here are our tips for navigating the conversation.

Looking for a therapist you can trust? Get matched with a therapist near you today!

Do You Need to Tell Your Parents That You’re Struggling With My Mental Health?

The reality is that not everyone has a safe relationship with their parents. If your parents aren’t a great source of support for you, you live in an abusive household, or you’re simply not ready to share with your parents, you are not wrong for not wanting to tell them how you’re feeling.

It’s possible that you’ve already tried telling your parents that you need support, only for them to brush off the situation or make you feel like you’re being dramatic. You might even feel like your parents contribute to your poor mental health – if you have parents that are neglectful or abusive, that can have a very negative effect on your emotional and mental well-being.

If it’s not safe to talk to your parents about how you’re feeling or you just don’t feel comfortable talking with them yet, don’t delay in getting the help you need. If possible, find another adult you can trust or confide in. This might be a teacher, a friend’s parent, a coach, a pastor, or maybe a different family member. There are also hotlines you can call if you don’t know where else to turn or need support right away, including:

5 Tips for Starting a Conversation About Mental Health With Your Parents

Starting a Conversation With Your Parents About Your Mental Health Infographic

When your parents love and support you, the last thing they want is for you to struggle alone. It makes total sense that you’re nervous to talk to them – even adults struggle to be vulnerable and reach out for help. However, deciding to talk to your parents about your mental health can make a huge difference in your life, both now and in the future.

Here are five tips on how to make starting the conversation easier:

  1. Start by writing down what you want to say: If you’re worried you won’t have the right words to express how you’ve been feeling, it might help to put it in writing first. You could spend some time journaling before you talk with your parents, or, if it’s easier, you could even read or show them what you wrote.
  2. Make sure the time is right: Bring up the conversation during a time when your parents seem relaxed and can give you their full attention. This could be during your drive home from school or on a weekend when your parents are unoccupied. You can also let your parents know that you’d like to talk and schedule a time to have the conversation.
  3. Express that you need help: Tell your parents that you want to see someone who can help you, like a therapist. If you are direct in saying that you need help, your parents will better understand how they can support you.
  4. Get extra support if you need it: If you’re worried about how your parents will react or want someone else there, you can reach out to another adult you trust or talk to a school counselor if there is one available to you. This extra person can give you advice on what to say, help you practice the conversation, or even be in the room while you talk to your parents.
  5. Give your parents time to process: It can be difficult for your parents to process that you are struggling. They might blame themselves, try to lecture you, act defensively, or not understand the seriousness of what you’re experiencing. Your parents might need some time to process what you’ve told them. If you express how you feel and your parents don’t get you the help you need right away, try again and explain that you still need support.

How Your Parents Can Help You With Your Mental Health

Once you tell your parents that you are struggling with your mental health, there are many ways they can support you:

They Can Support You in Therapy

Going to therapy can be difficult. If you’ve experienced trauma or struggle with suicidal thoughts, it can be really hard to talk about and work through those feelings. It can help if your parents understand what you’re going through so they know to expect shifts in your mood as you begin treatment. Your parents can help you find a therapist and can even attend the first sessions with you if you are afraid to go by yourself to start. Your parents can even seek therapy to help with their own mental health issues or to learn how to better support you.

They Can Help You Make Lifestyle Changes

If you struggle to sleep well, spend excessive time on social media, or don’t get enough exercise, these can all affect your mental health. Your therapist can help you identify lifestyle changes that could help you. But it’s hard changing your routine and the behaviors you’re used to! Your parents can help you stick to the changes you say you want to make.

They Can Talk Out Difficult Situations With You

Once you talk to your parents about your mental health, it makes it easier to talk to them about other areas in your life where you’re struggling. If you are struggling with your grades, are being bullied, or consistently feel sad, venting to your parents can help you feel heard and supported.

They Can Help You Practice and Learn Helpful Skills

Many people struggle with regulating their emotions or knowing how to cope with difficult situations. Your parents can help you practice skills your therapist teaches you, like what to do when you feel bad or how to deal with conflict or relationship issues.

Do You Need Help From a Therapist?

Reaching out for help is difficult, but your mental health is worth it! Whether you’re feeling stressed at school, having issues with your friends or your significant other, or experiencing low self-esteem or confidence, a therapist can help you feel seen and heard in your struggles. While talking with someone you don’t know can feel scary and uncomfortable at first, your therapist can help you navigate difficult feelings and situations in school, at home, or in your relationships. And if you’re struggling with a mental illness like depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), your therapist can guide you in receiving the treatment you need.

Your mental health is so important! Get the help you need at Ellie Mental Health and we’ll help you find a therapist that’s the perfect fit.