It can be even more difficult for parents to know how or when to speak to their teenager about mental health challenges or depression.
Wednesday, January 30 marks Bell Let's Talk Day, a chance to encourage an open dialogue about mental health in Canada. With that in mind, we've compiled some tips on how you can take the first steps to talk about mental health with your child.
Sometimes we might discount something as normal teen moodiness or rebelliousness, but it's important to recognize the difference between this and a more serious problem.
Depression can be hard to spot and looks different in children and youth compared to adults. In children and youth, symptoms can be:
- Complaints of physical pain, like a tummy ache
- Refusing to go to school
- New or worsening behavioural problems
- Substance use
Children and youth will sometimes hide their feelings from parents and trusted adults because they do not want to share how serious things are, or for fear of being judged or blamed for their problems.
It's easier to start a meaningful conversation if your child trusts you won't respond in this way. You may need to reassure them that you want to hear them, no matter what.
You can also help by creating opportunities for them to share their feelings and experience by:
- Staying connected in basic ways like during car rides, walks, or talking over meals
- Listening in a non-judgmental way
- Monitoring their reactions
- Taking what they have to say seriously
If you're looking for more advice, visit BC Children's Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre or Foundry. Both of these websites have more advice for parents on how to start conversations with your child about mental health challenges they may be experiencing. You can also suggest that your child checks out these resources for themselves.
We also encourage youth, parents and caregivers to reach out to distress lines for confidential, 24/7 support and resources:
- Greater Vancouver: 604-872-3311
- Toll free – Lower Mainland and Sunshine Coast: 1-866-661-3311
- Text Telephone TTY: 1-866-872-0113
- BC-wide: 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433)
- Online Distress Services: www.youthinbc.com, www.crisiscentrechat.ca
- In the case of an emergency, please call 9-1-1 or take your child or youth to the nearest emergency room.