BEE HEARD: Tips on talking to your child about mental well-being, mental illness

Here are some tips to help talk to your youth about mental well-being, mental illness, and their first visit with a Mental Health Professional: 

  • First, work on de-stigmatizing the language around mental illness in your own mind. 
  • Be open and honest. 
  • Do not sugar-coat. 
  • Be truthful, not hurtful. 
  • Be as prepared as possible for their response. 

Stay loving, compassionate, and understanding as you both go through this entire journey through diagnosis and/or evaluation of your child’s mental health. Using words that are age proper, simple, and direct to prepare your child in advance is helpful.  

Things to AVOID: 

  • Avoid using appointments as threats. 
  • For example, “you are a bad child I am taking you to see someone.” 
  • Avoid using the trip to the mental health professional as an occasion for lecturing or berating the child on the way to and/or from the appointment.

Starting the process in a positive direction by listening to your child and responding with a reassuring friendly tone can help your child feel heard and validated. Emotions are okay – they are neither bad nor good, let us learn together how we can express them without being mean to one another. Remember the dream works when the team works together!  

 Reminder: If you need to talk to someone, please reach out. 

It’s okay not to feel okay. Please contact us if you or someone you know has been struggling with their emotions, behaviors, or substance use. We can help you find appropriate tools and services that could help you overcome obstacles in your life. We are here for you. Don’t hesitate to contact the Southern Ute Behavioral Health Division or the Native Connections Program at 970.563.5700 for more information or to set up an appointment to see a counselor or therapist.  

Or you can call the NEW Nationwide Suicide and Substance Use Crisis line: 9-8-8 

NEW Nationwide Suicide and Substance Use Crisis line: 9-8-8 

Simply calling or texting 988 or chatting will connect you to compassionate care and support for mental health-related distress. #988Lifeline 

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