How to tell parents that you need helpOpening up may be difficult at first, but it can lead to a happier and healthier life in the long run.
I don’t know how my parents will react.
My parents will be disappointed.
My parents already have enough to worry about.
There are some common phrases we hear from someone who is contemplating sharing their struggles with their parents. Even if a child has a strong bond with their parents, it’s common for them to hesitate opening up about their challenges.
Our society still views discussions about mental health as taboo, and the fact that many families don't make it a routine to have such discussions makes children even more reluctant to talk about their issues. They might find it hard to choose the correct words to share how they feel. Teenagers, in particular, struggle with communicating about their anxiety or depression, not because they don’t believe they need support but rather because they don’t know how to do it.
Dealing with mental health issues is already difficult enough, but it takes a whole lot of courage to even consider discussing it with someone. Challenges with our mental health can often prevent us from making a choice to talk about it. If we struggle with anxiety, intrusive thoughts may make us feel hopeless. In the case of depression, it may be tough to describe how terrible each day is for us. Most of us probably find the idea of having a mental health conversation to be somewhat terrifying, but keep in mind that you are not alone.
Parents are always concerned about providing the best for their children. In times of difficulty, they always want to guide and support us. Our parents may not inquire about our emotions or sentiments, but they are always concerned about our mental well-being. There is a pretty good probability that our parents may have already noticed it if we have not been feeling well. But our parents expect us to approach them first, so sharing it may help them understand what is going on. While we worry that our parents won’t handle it well, they frequently do it better than we anticipate.
Talking to our parents about our mental health struggles might be an overwhelming process, but we have to understand that doing so is a necessary first step in obtaining the support and assistance we require. It may be difficult at first, but it can lead to a happier, healthier life in the long run. It is also absolutely essential to remember that our parents care about us and want to support us.
It is very important for us to choose the right time and place to talk so that our parents can give us their full attention without any distractions. Maintaining direct eye contact while having conversations about our struggles might be difficult, so we can do it over some light activities such as taking a walk or playing board games. Activities like these can break the tension and allow both parties to take time and respond. In this way, tackling such difficult topics feels more manageable.
We have to always choose to be honest about how we are feeling. Explaining what we are struggling with is important. Sometimes, we might not know what we are going through ourselves. In such cases, we should still take our time with it and explain. For instance, if you are feeling low, then say something like, “I don’t know how to describe it properly, but I don’t feel my best these days. I don’t like to hang out with my friends and have no energy to do anything. I think I might need help.” Also, when talking about our mental health struggles, we always have to use “I” statements to explain how we feel. For example, say, “I am feeling depressed” instead of “You are making me depressed.”
We have to let our parents know what kind of support we need from them. When our parents learn about our challenges, they may want to help us right away. But we have to be clear about what kind of support we are looking for. This could either be listening to us or helping us find a therapist.
When speaking to our parents, we must always be ready for a variety of responses, and it’s also crucial to keep in mind that even they may want some time to process the information. We have to be ready to answer a lot of questions. We have to make sure to provide them with relevant details, such as our difficulties with eating, sleeping, socialising, and experiencing headaches or stomach aches. Also, the conversation may not go as expected the first time, in such cases, we should attempt speaking to them again when they are ready.
There is a possibility that we could feel that our parents don’t really understand us even after communicating with them. But don’t lose hope. It’s possible that our parents won’t always see the severity of the situation right away. We can try speaking to another trusted adult, or we can always think about getting professional assistance from a therapist or counsellor. They can help us work through our emotions and develop strategies to talk to our parents.
Remember, asking for help is a sign of strength and not weakness. There are people who will always love us and want to support us, all we have to do is ask.