search
Live Love Laugh Logo

10 tips that help you talk to your parents about your mental health

01

Think about what exactly you’re going through

First, remember, before you try and put across what you’re going through, you need to understand it yourself, before you try explaining it to someone else. Think about what is causing this feeling inside you. Ask yourself, “What is wrong (or right) about what’s happening to me right now? What is causing me to feel this way?” Start connecting the dots about why you feel the way you do. And if you can’t put it into words, just talk to them anyway. You just need them to know you’re struggling so you can get the help you need.

02

Planning out what you’re going to say

Write a script if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Or just make a list if you’re worried it’s going to be stressful and you might forget what you want to cover. You can even do a bit of research and come with reading material for them if you think it would help. A printed-out list of symptoms that highlight what you’ve been experiencing can make it easier for your parents to understand.

03

Think about the different ways the conversation could take, and be ready for it

You don’t want your imagination to run wild that you get stressed out and back out. Being mentally prepared is important so you’re not caught off guard. It would help to prepare yourself for these possible reactions:

They might send you on a guilt trip:

Your parents might say something like, “We have given you the best! You have a roof over your head/good food every day…You shouldn’t be depressed!” If they do, respond with, “Yes, you’re right. I agree. I shouldn’t be feeling this way, and that’s how I know I need help.”

They might make it about them:

They might say, “I failed, I’m a terrible parent…” If they do, you can say something like, “It isn’t that you’re not doing enough. I’m not saying that anything in our family or my school or our environment needs to change, it’s that I need help.”

They might trivialise your feelings:

They might say, “It’s probably just a phase/You’re just having a bad day/You need to toughen up!” In which case, you can respond with something like, “I understand what you’re saying, but this is more than that. This is having an impact on me and my ability to live my life. I don’t know how to manage it on my own and I need help.”

04

Think about the right time to talk

Choose a time that works best for you and your parents. Instead of busy, chore filled weekday, you could go with a Saturday afternoon when there’s nothing going on. Also, bring it up at a time when you’re feeling good and not in crisis, so your mood doesn’t affect your message.

05

Try asking your parents about similar experiences

As an ice breaker, try asking your parents if they’ve ever been depressed or anxious, or if they had a time in their life when they felt alone, trapped, or stressed. This helps you see that your parents might relate to what you’re about to say more than you think. Even if they say no, it’s at least a little bit of an intro that can make things easier.

06

Even a letter, email, or text could work

If you have a bad relationship with your parents, or you’re anxious or stressed, writing it out is a great way to start the dialogue. This helps put your thoughts down clearly without any arguing, to interrupt the conversation.

07

Try a mediator if you’re not comfortable having the conversation yourself

If you’re not comfortable talking directly with your parents, you make take a school counselor, teacher, or a close relative or family friend could help you pass the message onto your parents if you don’t want to have the conversation by yourself, or just to practice the conversation with.

08

Take the help of your family GP or pediatrician

Sometimes parents will listen more seriously to a person in a position of authority. And a medical professional is also equipped to deal with situations like yours. If you tell your doctor about the symptoms you’re having — they’ll be able to talk to your parents and also give recommendations for where you could seek help.

09

Put an action plan in place

Once you’re done talking, you could put an action plan in place with your parents. You could use our therapist finder here. Also do a bit of research, and give your parents useful sites and reading

10

Explore other resources available to you if you need them

If you can’t immediately connect with your parents or a caregiver, you could reach out to a helpline. iCALL is a nationwide telephone and email based counselling service initiated by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences and run by trained mental health professionals. iCALL provides emotional support, information and referral services to individuals in psycho-social distress, across the life span and across different gender and sexual identities.If you require emergency help concerning mental health, you may

contact us by calling 022-25521111, from 08.00 a.m. to 10.00 p.m. Monday to Saturday.
You could also drop an email to icall@tiss.edu and we will be happy to reply.

Further reading

Decoding your hunger. Is it physical or emotional? Take the test!

5 things our body tells us about mental health


5 things your dreams tell you about your mental health


Food and mood