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Youth Mental Health Day

Talking to your child about mental health


As parents we care about little more than the welfare of our children. From day one we research the safest cots, quickly become adept at applying plasters and ‘magic cream’ to sore knees, and learn how to effectively deploy the Calpol and Disney+ for those sniffly cold days. But as they grow and mature, are we as equipped to effectively deal with the less physical pains they might incur?


Do we know the best ways in which we can take care of their mental wellbeing?


On 22nd September it is Youth Mental Health Day - a project initiated by STEM4 in a bid to raise awareness, conversation and support for this topic.





The pressures of modern day lifestyles are having an effect on everyone. The rise of internet usage and social media has enormous benefits in education and awareness, but also arguably, adds more pressure than ever before.


According to stem4:

One in six 5-16 year olds have a diagnosable mental health disorder, with 3 in 5 young people saying they are experiencing mental health difficulties such as anxiety, low mood, eating disorders, and self-harming behaviours.’


It can be a really stressful and heartbreaking topic to tackle. If you have a young person in your life who might be struggling with their mental health and you’re wondering how you can talk to them about it, here are some tips;


Some tips about how to talk to your child about mental health


1 Talk alongside doing an activity.

Oftentimes it can feel less intimidating to have a talk when you’re alongside one another as opposed to facing each other; having a chat whilst walking or in the car (for older children) or focusing on a mutual activity (colouring or baking for younger children) can be a great way to gently introduce a discussion they, or you, might feel nervous about.


2 Use a gentle conversation starter

This can be what people struggle with the most; how to start a conversations. Try using an open ended prompt to get a conversation going initially ‘what’s been the best part of your week?’ or ‘Are you struggling with anything?’


3 Be patient.

It can be so hard when all you want is the best for your child, but try not to force a conversation, often these things take time. Make it clear the option is always open and let them know about different ways to initiate it. Suggest they can always write a letter, leave a text or speak to someone else if they want to.


4 Don’t dismiss the way they’re feeling.

Validate what they tell you with compassion and express your love and support. Establishing this trust with them will enable them to feel safe enough to open up to you more.


5 Make sure you’re being supported too.

Remember your own health & wellbeing. It can be really hard dealing with family struggles, don’t take it all on your own shoulders. Make sure you are putting things in place to support your own stress levels and mental health, and reach out if you need support.


Resources & Sign Posts


We recognise that sometimes we all need a helping hand. Here are some events, resources and organisations that you might find helpful:


  • Free workshops in Dorchester

In partnership with Tria form Sticks n Stones, we’ll be hosting a series of free workshops in Dorchester. These will focus on topics such as anxiety in young people, managing blended families, behaviour management, and more. Contact Tria on triastebbing@btinternet.com


  • Book a session with our specialists

We have a wonderful team of professionals here at Wellbeing Practice, each with a different speciality and focus. If you’d like to know more about speaking to someone about family difficulties and young people then get in touch and we can point you in the right direction for help. Contact Ian on hello@wellbeingpractice.co.uk


Our colleague, and family support expert, Tria from Stick n Stones comments:


''There is no handbook for parenting and indeed the chapter on mental health in adolesence is huge. It's worth mentioning that school can be a great first place to seek support as most high schools now have pastoral & support teams available. Most young people have a trusted non-direct family member that they might prefer to talk to rather than shocking their parents, again this might be someone in a trusted position, youthworker, teacher, netball club etc. Reassuring them that you are always there to listen and relating something to your own experience of youth is a good way in too.''


We’re contributing to Youth Mental Health Day by using their campaign focus #ConnectMeaningfully. Follow along and share your ideas and stories on social media on 22nd September.



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