Discussing Mental Health with Kids

October 26, 2020

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A Guide to Discussing Mental Health with Kids

Since the start of the pandemic in the United States, many people have started to be more open about discussing struggles with mental health. Now, it seems like people are talking about mental health more than ever as the pandemic has impacted all people in many different ways. But, is there someone who is being left out of the conversation? Most youth in the United States are attending school through either a hybrid or fully remote version this year. They are trying to understand why they can’t see their friends on the weekends, or why they have to attend school via Zoom, or why they can’t go to the park as much anymore. If leadership and other adults in this country are struggling to understand the complexity of the pandemic, there is no denying that young minds are struggling too.  

When kids are left unable to understand all of the crazy things that are going on in the world, it can start to take a toll on their mental health. They may start to have trouble expressing and coping with emotions, or even show signs of depression and anxiety. If you have started to notice changes in behaviors in the kids in your life due to the pandemic (whether you are a parent, aunt, uncle, sibling, or grandparent), maybe it is time to start including them in the mental health conversation. Including them in the conversation is not something that needs to be over complicated either, you can include them in small and simple ways. 

Some of this inclusion can look like putting down your phone when they want to talk about their day at school, asking them about their day and how they are feeling at any given moment, or even showing them that you are open to discussing your emotions.  

The world that we are living in is full of uncertainty, and we are all scared to some degree. Showing that we can be vulnerable with our emotions is what can bring us together, it can make us feel like we are not the only ones struggling; that we aren’t alone in this world. By modeling this for all of the kids in our lives, we can help to raise a generation that is open about discussing mental health and may not struggle as much as older generations do.  

Finally, if you are concerned with your child’s mental health and are unsure how to address it, reach out to your pediatrician or local mental health services. If you don’t have access to either of these services, or are unsure of who to contact first; try calling these hotlines:  

  • National Alliance on Mental Health: 1-800-950-6264 or info@nami.org 

  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: (800) 662-4357 

  • National Institute of Mental Health: (866) 615-6464 


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