When parents suffer from mental health problems, the whole family can feel it.
Many parents who are mentally ill struggle with shame, fear and feelings of guilt. They find it difficult to discuss the topic, ”says Magdalena Wolf, Pedagogical Director at SOS Children’s Village Vienna. “But even without clear words, children can feel that something is wrong.”
How can you explain something to children that you often do not fully understand yourself?
How to discuss mental health with family
👨👩👦 Together through the crisis
Parents want to protect their children from grief and pain and not burden them. With silence and evasive answers, however, the opposite is achieved: The children become insecure and worried.
Take courage! Trust your child to handle the situation. Mental health problems affect the whole family and should therefore be mastered together.
🗨️ Find the right words
Talking about mental illness is unfamiliar. So think about which atmosphere is most suitable and prepare yourself well for the first conversation. Books can help you find suitable words.
HERE you will find a list of books that deal with mental illnesses in a child-friendly manner.
📖 Honest answers
Another way on how to discuss mental health is having open conversations. Such conversations are important so that children and young people can better classify and process overwhelming experiences. In addition, transparency helps to reduce feelings of shame. If your child has questions, try to answer them sincerely and in easy-to-understand words.
Some questions may not have a clear answer at the moment – and that’s okay. If, for example, you don’t know when Dad will be better, admit it. And share with your child that you would wish to know too.
Some children don’t ask immediately. If the question marks come up later and your child may turn to you with new thoughts in the middle of the supermarket, take your time and address them.
😢 Take away feelings of guilt
Many children and young people feel guilty and think that they are responsible for the behavior of their parents: “If I hadn’t been so bad, mom wouldn’t have to cry so often.” and now he’s sick ”.
Explain to your child that they are not causing the problems. Discuss that it is no one to blame and that they all have a common goal: to deal with the illness well.
👩👧 Remain parents
Another awesome way on our list on how to discuss mental health with family, is parents to remain parents and children to remain as children.
Make sure that there is no role change. Even if everyday family life gets a little out of hand, your child should still be allowed to be a child and not take on the care of a sick parent. If you have the feeling that the structure is tipping, get help – for example from relatives, friends or advice centers.
🤝 Create balance and accept help
Together with your child, think about what is good for them and what makes the situation easier. It can be a carefree excursion as well as a person of trust with whom the youngsters can openly exchange ideas.
Don’t be afraid to get help from others. Mental health problems are a serious issue. Recognizing them and getting support are important steps for the whole family. (TT.com)
Bottom line, it’s not as difficult as may have imagined. Just take the first step, follow all the tips given in this article on how to discuss mental health with family and just do it. Talk it out!
You might also like: How to talk to someone who is depressed