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.
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.
Tracy, N. (2012, April 5). How Do I Tell My Parents I Need Mental Health Help?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, October 5 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/breakingbipolar/2012/04/how-do-i-tell-my-parents-i-need-mental-health-help
Author: Natasha Tracy
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.........
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-refer…
Only reaching out can make this better but remember, it _can_ get better.
- Natasha Tracy
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?
I'm sorry that's not an option for you. You may wish to call a helpline: https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/resources/mental-health-hotline-numbers-and-refer…
Those people are there to help, too.
- Natasha Tracy
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...
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
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
I can understand the fear of what your father might think. That's why I recommend calling a helpline or talking to a school counselor for help in talking to family.
Reach out for help and it can get better.
- Natasha Tracy
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.
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-refer…
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
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
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
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.
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..
Hi my name is anonymous,ever since day one I was this loud ,energetic kid who would never be quiet I experienced an awful lot such as start of yr7 I hanged with messed up girl group who practically controlled whatever I do,it took awhile but I desperately tried getting a way from the girl group I finally did I started having strong mood swings for the past six months feeling hopeless and etc . My mum is a scrict religious mother who. Won't believe a word I say.i want to tell someone and get diagnosis but my friends shut me down and I and cared to tell the school counsellor I want to tell someone please help
I'm so sorry, that sounds hard.
Please remember, in order to get help, you have to reach out. You have to tell an adult who can help you. I can understand being afraid, but without doing that, you can't get help.
If you're concerned about talking to the school counselor, try talking to a helpline first: https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/resources/mental-health-hotline-numbers-and-refer…
A helpline cannot diagnose you but they can support you and point you towards resources. Note that you do not have to be suicidal to call.
I know when your parents aren't supportive it's really hard but you can get through this, you have to reach out for help first.
- Natasha Tracy
im 20 years old, feel genderless, have tons of mental problems yet have no one to talk with irl, parents are the over religious closed mind strict parents, when i told them about slight problem i have they turned it into religious lecture, can't talk with them about anything cuz it always turn into religious lecture, what to do? i need help, ive need that for like 10/11 years and i no longer can tolerate it anymore
That must be very hard for you. Please know that there are people who want to help. One of those is The Trevor Project: https://www.thetrevorproject.org/
Please call them. They are dedicated to helping young people just like you. They will understand what you're going through.
- Natasha Tracy
Uhh hi. I'm 13, nearly 14.
I think I need help, but am still scared to do so even after reading this article.
I think I have Bipolar, and have been experiencing what i think to be quite extreme mood swings for some time. I came to this website today because I just got over a really big mood swing. This mood change made it so I've fallen out with my father and oldest sibling. I blew up. I have no idea where to turn, since my school doesn't have a counsellor. All of my friends either won't listen, won't care, or are experiencing their own mental health issues. I don't know where to turn. Frankly speaking, I've f***ed myself over.
I'm normally quite.. bland. I don't tend to show much emotion. My mood swings come positive AND negative. Sometimes I'm elated and giggly, other times I'm thinking about self harming and I don't know what to do about it.
My dad will flip out if he finds out, because he's really mad and I don't think he really cares about me, but my mum isn't in the country, and I don't live with her anymore. I have a step-mum, but I don't really know her that well, and I think she's just hanging around because my dad and her have their own 3yr old daughter.
I don't know what to do, and I'm so sick of it all.
I'm so sorry you're in this position. I know how hard it is to be young and facing mental health challenges.
If possible, pick an adult in your life to tell, even if that person is outside your family. That person may be able to help you talk to your family, as you will likely need their support in order to see a doctor/therapist.
There are also many helplines to call, many specifically for youth. You do not have to be suicidal to call. They can listen to your story and give you suggestions about what to do next: https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/resources/mental-health-hotline-numbers-and-refer…
Please remember that while it's hard right now, help is out there and you can get it even though it may be hard.
- Natasha Tracy
Im 15. And ive been struggling with depression and selfharm. Now also been smoking weed. But it hasnt helped. Self harm getting worse. I still dont know how to tell my parents i need to go to a mental hospital..
I'm very sorry you're in this situation and struggling this way. Please know that smoking weed will not help and will possibly make things worse.
Please reach out. If you feel like you can't talk to your parents, talk to a doctor or your school counselor. They may be able to help you talk to your parents.
Also, you can call a helpline any time. Please reach out before harming yourself: https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/resources/mental-health-hotline-numbers-and-refer…
Know that things can get better but you need to reach out for help first.
- Natasha Tracy
I am 14 years old and I think that I have a disorder called Skin Pickung Disorder or Dermatillomania. Not many doctors have heard of it and my mum is quite scary. I am scared of my mum and i don’t want to tell her that I have it because last time she said that she didn’t believe me and that it isn’t true. I want to tell her as it is causing visible wounds on my body and scarring. What should I do?
M 22 soon turning 23 .....I have been suffering from anxiety from a long time ...I panick often ....at night I hear voices which are not really there and harm myself when I am angry from last two days its getting worst I think negatively and fight and blame others and then I can't stop crying ....I am close to my mom n tried to talk to her but she does not exactly know what to do .I need help or I ll end up my professional and personal life ...pls help
You need to reach out for medical help. You can do this through your family doctor. I suspect you are not in North America so it's difficult to make additional recommendations.
- Natasha Tracy
Hi I'm 16 and I've been depressed ever since I was around 11-12 and I've hurt myself in many ways over those years (cuts, burns, etc.) and attempted suicide once. I'm not close with my parents and they know about my problems and that I cut and that I attempted but they ignore it and pretend like it didn't happen. I attempted over a year ago and then I thought I got better but the past couple months I've been getting worse and I don't know what to do. I want to get help and see if there's something actually mentally wrong with me but I don't know/want them to be a part of my recovery.
I'm sorry to hear you're depressed and self-harming. I know how hard that is. I was that way at 16, too. I'm also sorry your parents didn't respond in a helpful way.
If you're 16, you can probably see a doctor by yourself, so you may wish to discuss your concerns with a doctor. Also, I recommend you seek out a school counselor for help.
Finally, you can call a helpline for additional support and resource referrals. See here for numbers: https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/resources/mental-health-hotline-numbers-and-refer…
Remember, you don't have to be suicidal to call a helpline.
Good luck. You can get through this.
- Natasha Tracy
umm. just like i dont know how to talk to my parents, i dont know how to start writing here. i turned 19 two days ago. and ive been attempting suicide since i was 17. sooo many fail attempts. i really want to die but firstly im scared of it a little and secondly i thinks thers still hope at the end of the tunnel. im the only child and i get REALLY LONELY in my house. theres nobody to talk to and my parents arent really interested in my life. i had wonderful friends but i showly lost them one by one as i reached Alevels. nobody showed up at my birthday party that i planned recently. im ready to cut off with everyone. feels like ive been left alone in this big quiet world full of backstabbers. ive got a really nice boyfriend who cares for me and supports me too but being with him makes me feel like im cheating on my mother. and with a heavy heart i decide to leave my super caring boyfriends for a mother who doesnt even care for me like he does
I've always felt empty inside since I was in 2nd grade. I've been attempting suicide since I was 10 yrs old (I'm 13) My parents think I'm just doing it for attention. There are times where I feel like I'm watching someone else's life. I hate my life even more because I am bisexual and my parents hate all people who are LGBTQ+ and think they should die. I can't talk to a counselor because you need permission from a parent. I don't know what to do and I'm so sick of living.
I'm so sorry you're in that spot. Please call the helpline that The Trevor Project runs: http://www.thetrevorproject.org/ They are specifically dedicated to helping LGBTQ+ youth.
- Natasha Tracy
Hi I'm 14, I've been bottling up the fact that I'm think I have depression or anxiety for around half a year. I only recently spoke to a friends older sibling about it as she found me crying to my friend at a party who I had just told my worries to. They are the only people I've told, and they said I needed to tell a family member. I'm scared to tell them not because of how they'd react but because I don't know where to start as I'm not particularly close with my parents, how do you start a difficult conversation like that?
Hey my name is Luke and I'm 16 and I think I have social anxiety because I seem to have the symptoms and I feel like I may be depressed and seems it's getting worse what should I do.
I'm sorry to hear you have those symptoms. You need to reach out in order to get better. You do need to tell your parents so they can help you get the help you need. If you feel like you can't do that, pick another adult in your life that your trust. You can also talk to a school counselor or your doctor.
You can also call a helpline at any time: https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/resources/mental-health-hotline-numbers-and-refer…
- Natasha Tracy
Hey I'm slightly similar to you. I've been depressed for along time and if you ever want/need someone to talk too I'm here. Honestly talk to me anytime. You can dm me on insta at Joelle.weiss or email me and Heidi.firstname.lastname@example.org
I'm 14 and I feel like I'm always messing things up. My grandma hates me because I'm lazy and I don't do anything., because me and my mom and my stepdad live with her. And whenever they fight they are always blaming me. My stepdad hates me. He should because my mom and him tryed to have a baby but it died and I didn't want a sibling because I was jealous. I need help but I'm not used to telling other people.
I assure you, you are not always messing things up, even though you might feel that way.
Feeling jealous over a sibling is perfectly normal and it doesn't mean it had anything to do with the death of the child. I can understand the guilt you may feel over this, but it wasn't your fault.
It sounds like you need to talk to someone. I recommend seeing a counselor as soon as school gets back in. Be open and let that person help you.
You can also call a hotline anytime: https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/resources/mental-health-hotline-numbers-and-refer…
- Natasha Tracy
Hi I'm 14 years old and I'm not sure what's wrong with me. I've self harmed multiple times but I have been able to stop and have been clean for a couple months but I still want to and still feel sad and I don't know I fall into despair a lot whee i feel like everything around me hates me and is just falling away and that i will never fully be happy but i don't know. But sometimes I am happy and I'm fine but I still know somethings wrong with me. I just feel like my life isn't worth it I guess. I don't know. My parents are always mad at me for something and I constantly feel like I can only disappoint people. I want help but every time I start to tell my mom she tells me that it's all okay and makes it all about her struggles which aren't really that bad. And then she tells me to pray about it. I m religious but there is a certain point when you need help and I'm there. what do i do?
If you feel there is something wrong, you need help, plain and simple. I understand how hard that is when your parents won't help.
I know school isn't in right now, but when it is, I recommend you see a school counselor as soon as possible. You can talk about these issues with the counselor. There are also hotlines available where you can call and talk to people. Keep in mind, you do not have to be suicidal to call these numbers: https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/resources/mental-health-hotline-numbers-and-refer…
I hope that helps.
- Natasha Tracy
I'm 13 years old and I'm showing all symptoms of schizophrenia I've tried to tell my parents that I've been showing them but they've said that there is nothing wrong with me, but I don't want to experience these hallucinations anymore but my parents won't listen or take me seriously I don't know how to ask them for help.
I'm sorry you're going through this. If you find your parents aren't helping you, then I recommend you get outside support. Local mental health groups may be able to help you as could a doctor. You can also talk to your school counselor once school is back in. There are also many resources here: https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/resources/mental-health-hotline-numbers-and-refer…
You can always call the National Lifeline (you'll see its number at the above link). You don't have to be suicidal to call.
If you connect with these people, they may be able to support you and help you when you talk to your parents again because, ultimately, you do need their help.
- Natasha Tracy
Hello, I'm a twelve year old. I haven't been able to sleep well for a while, I've been having major panic attacks. At school, I don't trust anyone and I always feel like someone is going to try to kill me at any moment. I don't have any friends to talk to either. I see things all the time, and when I ask someone if they saw that, they ask what I'm talking about. I feel like there's this voice telling me that I'm ugly, that I'm fat, that no one will care if I'm dead, that I'm worthless. I have tried to talk to my dad who's the more understanding parent, and he got angry at me and told me that I have a perfect life compared to the people he's seen. He said that I'm lucky to actually be living in a house. I wanted a supportive parent, but I didn't expect that. That just made me feel more depressed. I feel like dying so often, and I just don't know how to tell my parents.
I'm so sorry you're experiencing this. It sounds very difficult and it definitely sounds like you need help.
If you feel like your parents aren't supporting you, you likely want to reach out to another adult for help. Pick a family member or family friend. Once school starts, I also recommend you see a school counselor as soon as possible.
You can also call a helpline for additional support and ideas: https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/resources/mental-health-hotline-numbers-and-refer…
You can feel better with help.
- Natasha Tracy
Hey, I'm 12. I'm almost certain I have maladaptive daydreaming and mild social anxiety. About the daydreaming, I've had it for a while, but I always thought I just really liked writing stories. But when I saw this illness, I realized this was probably what I had. However, I plan on telling my parents about that and that's not a too big problem for me. However, about social anxiety, I feel like it's gonna be a big problem. I'm going back to school soon, and, I know it will be a nightmare because over summer break i've gone to many, I guess, club sort things, like karate lessons, or volleyball lessons, and clarinet lessons. Every time, I would get horrible stomach aches, sweating, heart racing, and a big feeling of panic. This might seem dramatic, but it's true. This is especially with volleyball and karate, I think because I have to do it with other people in a big class. I also am not that good in school in the first place, so I don't know what to do. Help please?
Social anxiety is a real issue for many people. If you are experiencing it, you're not being dramatic. You need to talk to your parents about it because you likely need some psychotherapy to help deal with the issue. School counselors are also an option once school gets back in.
You can also call a helpline anytime: https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/resources/mental-health-hotline-numbers-and-refer…
- Natasha Tracy
I'm 15 and I'm not sure what's wrong with me . I grew in a emotional and physical abusive family (dad and stepmom) but I recently came to live with my mum in a different country. And I was happy. Until I started getting really tired and stopped going to school . My mum is disabled as it is and I'm making it worse on her. I heard voices but I can't tell if they're really voices and I just want it to stop. I'm ruining my relationships with everyone. I keep thinking they'd be better without me . What do I do?
I'm so sorry to hear about your abusive past and what you are currently experiencing. You need to talk to a therapist about this. The trauma you previously experienced can cause all sort of issues for your present life. But you can get better with help.
Please reach out to an adult you trust in your life. Hotlines are also available for you: https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/resources/mental-health-hotline-numbers-and-refer…
- Natasha Tracy
I am 13 and have been showing all the symptoms of the bipolar disorder. I don't know whether or not I am actually bipolar so I so I am to afraid to ask my parents if I can see someone to try and figure it out. I don't know what to do, and I am just afraid all the time I gonna suddenly blow in front of someone like I have done a few times. I have been extremely depressed in the past but that's been over for a few years now. But my mind and emotions have just been going back and forth from hot to cold and all over the place and I don't know what to do.
hello , i'm 16 recently i've been having all the bipolar disorder sympots i had it for a while now because by looking at what i did this past year i made a lot of troubles i pushed people away and sometimes i enjoyed hurting them but then i regret it and feel bad for them and for myself and i bring all the bad things i did back and start to have a very bad breakdown little things hurts me and i can't even cry or tell anyone my family wouldn't understand that mental illness is important and not to let it just pass as they say they think they're helping me by not talking about it but i'm felling the pain most of the time now i'm not okay i live in a community that if i went to a therapist everyone will think i'm crazy or something and i can't go alone i really messed things up with everybody i'm literally destroying my life i can't understand myself anymore what should i do.. i think i convinced myself that i'm gay and then i'm not sure anymore it's like i think about a thing and put myself in it and at like it and then boom it's not real. i never undestood myself i guess i never will
Hi I'm a 13 year old. I have very bad depression and anxiety. For the last couple of weeks I have been unable to control my emotions. I can't sleep till it's like 1 or 2 in the morning. I have thought about suicide but I would never do it and I'm starting to think I need to go to the hospital cause it's get worse where I'm inable to go a day without having many anxiety attacks. I can't think straight. I'm not sure what to do or if I should go in. Can you please help me
I'm so sorry you're experiencing this right now. It sounds very hard.
What you need to do is get help. See a doctor as see what he/she says. See a therapist. If you feel like you really need the hospital, then go there. It's important to do what is right for you and protect yourself.
You may also want to call a helpline and see what resources they can offer you: https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/resources/mental-health-hotline-numbers-and-refer…
Remember, you don't have to be suicidal to call.
- Natasha Tracy