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How Do I Tell My Parents I Need Mental Health Help?

Mental health is something that matters whether you’re seven, seventeen and seventy, and any of those ages can fall victim to a mental illness. Depression, for example, is quite prevalent and undertreated in the elderly.

But if you’re underage, it may be more difficult than just going to your doctor to start the process of getting help for your mental health. It likely means explaining your mental health concerns to your parents; which, quite reasonably, is scary to a young person. (It’s scary to an old person too, but I digress.)

So how do you tell your parents you think you need mental health help?

What Makes You Think You Need Help?

It’s absolutely possible to be underage and need mental health help and it’s absolutely possible that you, as an underage person, might be the one to realize it before your parents. After all, only you know how you are feeling inside.

But it’s important to sit down for a moment and think, logically about why you think you need help. No doubt, you have your reasons, but it’s important to think critically about what they are so that you can communicate them to your parents (and then, later, to a healthcare professional).

Write Down Your Reasons

Now that you’ve got your thoughts straight, write down what you want to say to your parents. I don’t say this because I think you need another piece of homework, I say this because it can be very intimidating and anxiety-causing to talk to your parents and you might forget what you want to say. This happens to everyone. During that all-important conversation the points you want to make just fly out of your head. And take a look at it from your parent’s perspective – if you can’t tell them what’s wrong, how can they help you?

Get Ready to Talk

Now that you’re clear on your part of the conversation, make a plan on when and how to talk to your parents. Hopefully you can find a time when there’s no pressure to be somewhere or do something. Maybe talk to one parent alone if you feel more comfortable with that.

And make sure you have support people to back you up if things don’t go well. Hopefully things will go well and you’ll get what you need from your parents, but if they don’t, friends you can call can make all the difference in the world. Your school counselor might be another resource you can use for support during this time.

Talk to Your Parents

Then it’s time to have the talk. Try to be calm and act rationally, if you can. You might not be able to, and that’s OK too, just do your best.

If you’re really concerned that things will blow up when you talk to your parents, consider writing them a letter and giving it to them with a few hours to digest it before you talk.

Get Help

The goal of talking to your parents is to get help so that is the next step. Keep in mind, your parents might not know what to do – that’s OK, adults aren’t perfect and sometimes we’re as confused as anyone else.

So maybe you can suggest what kind of help you need. Do you need an eating disorder specialist? Do you need inpatient treatment for an addiction? Do you want to talk to a psychologist? Do you think you have a mental illness and should see a doctor? Do you need emergency help because you’re afraid you might hurt yourself?

Any of those things are OK. All kinds of help are out there and whatever you need is what you should ask for. If in doubt, see your family doctor and get a referral from there.

Parents Aren’t Perfect

I probably don’t need to tell you this but parents aren’t perfect and they might not reach out with the love and support you deserve. But remember, you do deserve those things and your parents might just need a bit of time with this new information before they can give them to you.

And please remember that help is always available, no matter what. These helplines can get you started.

You can find Natasha Tracy on Facebook or GooglePlus or @Natasha_Tracy on Twitter.

Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar Burble, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

176 thoughts on “How Do I Tell My Parents I Need Mental Health Help?”

  1. I’m 16 and I have like theese moments where I’m so happy and I feel like I can do anything and then the next I’m in my bed crying and don’t want to get up and I don’t know what to do and I don’t know what is wrong with me.. my mom is bipolar and I think maybe I am too but I’m scared to talk to her about it cuz it’s really hard for her and I don’t want to upset her

    1. Hi Makayla,

      I’m sorry you are in that situation. You’re right, it can be very hard to talk to parents — but you do need to talk to an adult. If it can’t be your mom right now, then try a school counselor or a helpline right now: https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/resources/mental-health-hotline-numbers-and-referral-resources/

      They may be able to support you in talking to your parents.

      Your parents do have to know because you need help. You need to know why you are feeling this way. Whether you have bipolar or not, you need to find out.\

      Remember, if you don’t reach out to an adult, nothing can get better.

      – Natasha Tracy

  2. Um.. Hi.. I turned fourteen just over a month ago…. I’m really worried that I have some kind of issue though, because I can’t even bring myself to answer my name on the register at school anymore…. Since I joined secondary school, I feel like I’ve been getting worse at so many simple things… I used to be shy when I was younger, but now I can barely talk to anyone other than my friends and family… It’s getting really hard lately since one of my friends has been ill since December and no one has seen or heard from her other than her family and school… I find myself happy sometimes and then I’ll just think about something going on in my life for a second and I’ll suddenly just feel sad……

    My parents are also having a divorce so I’m really stressed out at the moment…. Even just over little things… To put this into context, K like to get to school ridiculously early because I panic that I’m going to be late if I don’t arrive at least 20 minutes before the gates close.. I was walking last week and I was running one minute behind the time I like to set myself for leaving (not that my parents really agree with it because they no it is too early)… But, I was trying to put my shoe on and it wouldn’t go on… I got so stressed, panicked and angry that I ended up flinging the shoe at the ceiling and nearly hitting my Mum and my dog…. I felt so terrible I tried to leave straight away after getting my shoe, crying by this point…. I was stopped and made to calm down so I could leave…. I was really down when I got to school and my teacher for first period noticed and started asking me questions…. There are only a few teachers I feel confident quietly talking to at school, so I ask allowed to see one of them after lesson… I told them about my parents… But not really about how I feel….. I don’t feel like I can tell anyone that I’m worried about myself because I’m scared and I don’t want to upset them…… I just don’t know what to do anymore and i don’t want it getting worse because I’m worried now………

    1. Hi Charlotte,

      I can understand wanting to keep difficult feelings to yourself. This is something that many, many people feel. But what you have to know is that if you don’t talk to anyone, no one can help you and things can’t get better. In my experience, these things do get worse if you don’t address them and that’s the last thing you want.

      Please find an adult to talk to — whoever makes sense for you, counselor, teacher, parent, etc. Even a helpline. https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/resources/mental-health-hotline-numbers-and-referral-resources/

      Only reaching out can make this better but remember, it _can_ get better.

      – Natasha Tracy

  3. I was reading through the comments and on some you said to talk to the school counselor… but my school counselor is my mom and I’m scared to talk to me parents and admit that I might need help. What should I do?

  4. Hey,I have been to a therapist before and they did say i had anxiety and depression, but that was back in 6th grade (i’m in 8th now), and i stopped seeing her in 7th because i thought i was getting better, and i was, but with recent events (parents splitting up a divorce soon to follow and that we going to soon move to the other side of the country- again!) its been getting worse and worse and I’ve been talking to the school counselor and she says she thinks i should go see a psychiatrist and get some medication for it but the thing is she said she would call my mother to speak about to, that was 4 weeks ago and i asked her about it she said she was too busy and that i should just tell her but, i’m not sure how she’ll react i’m quite sure she knows somethings wrong, but i’m not sure she knows how bad it is…

    1. Hi Kennedy,

      I’m sorry you’re experiencing anxiety and depression. I know how hard that is.

      If I were you, I would book an appointment with your school counselor and use the appointment to phone one of your parents. That way she can’t say she doesn’t have time.

      If that’s not possible, then, yes, you may have to tell your parent yourself. If this is the case, you might want to say something like, “You know the anxiety and depression I experienced before? Well, I started feeling better, as you know, but because I’ve been finding life pretty stressful lately, the symptoms are returning and I need help again, please. How can we make that happen?”

      You can continue the conversation from there.

      – Natasha Tracy

  5. I have been depressed for maybe a month now, fairly mild but also ive found that i have most symptoms of bpd, and add/adhd
    and im a bit stuck because my dad doesnt really understand any of that stuff and im scared he’ll get annoyed

  6. I already suffer from depression and anxiety…but I think that I am bipolar too. I have many people even tell me this. I am almost 16 but I don’t know how to tell my mom that I think I should be tested.

    1. Hi Anonymous,

      I know it’s hard to talk to your parents about your mental health, but it’s important that you do. You can’t get help until you reach out.

      What you can do is talk to your school counselor and see if he or she can help. You can also call a helpline and they may be able to support you in talking to your parents: https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/resources/mental-health-hotline-numbers-and-referral-resources/

      Finally, you could try to go to a doctor yourself and see what he or she says. That person may be able to do a preliminary assessment and that may help you with your parents.

      Good luck. You can do this.

      – Natasha Tracy

  7. Hi im 14 and i smokes weed alot but 5 days ago i smoked some weed and now i feel depressed, feel like everthing is a dream but going mental on it i cant do this anymore but i know my parents are gonne be so mad and pissed beceause i smoked weed i just need mental help

    1. Hi Boiii,

      If you’re experiencing the aftermath of drugs, you need to get help immediately. I recommend talking to a doctor as soon as possible. You can also look online in your country for a helpline and talk to them about options, they may be of more help.

      – Natasha Tracy

  8. I’m never quite sure how I feel. I have been having some fall outs with my Mom so I don’t feel like I can talk to her, and my dad is out of the question. I’m 13 and my school doesn’t have any counselors I could talk to about how I have been feeling, well nothing basically. I was trying to explain how I feel, but unless I explain my life story, it wouldn’t really be possible.

    1. Well today I just called my mom and I am 13 as you..And my mom wouldn’t believe that i have mental issues..I have Bipolar and Multiple personality..Just try to explain slowly..I’m sure your parents will understand..

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