Talking To Your Children About Mental Health
As an adult psychotherapist, I see people every day who are suffering from mild to moderate mental health issues. One of the first things, we spend time working on is a general understanding as to what mental health is all about and very often working to alleviate the shame that comes from the stigma of having a mental health issue. But why? After all, there is very little stigma attached to most physical health issues, even in matters which 20 years ago would be considered to be something to be ashamed of, we have as a society risen above it. The answer seems to be a lack of willingness on the part of parents to discuss this subject with children.
In the past, and even now, for many parents to talk about sex with their children is a difficult if not impossible task, which is often left to the schools to address, or worse still back of the bike shed education. Now it seems that 55% of parents do not discuss this subject with their children. This, as a mental health professional, strikes me as shameful. It is as though the majority of parents want the “nice bits” of parenting but then shy away from the really important matters which can ultimately effect a child’s development and long term happiness. Parents need to “grow up” and face the reality that mental health is an integral part of their children’s well being, and that they take as much care to see to these needs being met, as they do in ensuring that their children dress warmly in the cold.