How To Talk To Kids About Mental Illness #MC

“I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for the California Mental Health Services Authority. I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating.”

Over the past few months, I've shared a few posts about the Each Mind Matters program and their efforts in eliminating the stigma that goes along with dealing with mental illness.

As parents, we want our children to come to us with any problem they may have, big or small. The Each Mind Matters Movement isn't just about how we deal with these issues and stigma as adults, but how we are able to teach those who look up to us that getting help is ok and asking questions is always better than staying silent.

Some of us may come from cultural backgrounds where mental illness could be seen as bringing shame or embarrassment to the family. Mental illness could be seen as a weakness in intelligence or a loss of self-control. Hiding mental illness to save "face" rather than seeking help might happen with families who do not know of resources that are available to them.

Fear of being hurt or isolated because of stigma impacts the whole family. Young people maybe afraid to be open with their parents and vice versa. People living with mental health challenges are not defined by their condition. It is just a small part of who they are and how they live their lives. provides some key questions and words of encouragement a friend or family member can provide as support:
  • I have been feeling concerned about you lately. 
  • Recently, I have noticed some differences in you and wondered how you are doing. 
  • I wanted to check in with you because you haven’t seemed yourself lately. 
  • When did you begin feeling like this? 
  • Did something happen that made you start feeling this way? 
  • How can I best support you right now? 
  • Have you thought about getting help? 
  • You are not alone in this. I’m here for you. 
  • You may not believe it now, but the way you’re feeling will change. 
  • I may not be able to understand exactly how you feel, but I care about you and want to help. 
  • When you want to give up, tell yourself you will hold off for just one more day, hour, minute—whatever you can manage. 
Having a supportive, understanding family member or friend is the most important step for a person dealing with mental illness. There are many resources to help individuals dealing with mental illness, or to help supportive family members or friends. It's Up to US SD has many valuable resources for communities in San Diego county. I've referred many of my students and their families to this resource for help.

It is important to know If you or someone you care about is in crisis and needs immediate help, call the Crisis Hotline at (888) 724-7240. The phone lines are answered by trained professionals available 24/7; the call is free and confidential. If emergency medical care is needed, call 9-1-1 or go to the emergency room of the nearest hospital.

Let's all commit to putting a stop to the stigma of mental illness at home. We pass along our stigma to our children in small ways every day. To raise them to be aware, compassionate and accepting, we first need to be role models of compassion and acceptance.