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Fraser Health's Guide to Mental Health

January 5, 2024

Guide to mental health brought to you by Fraser Health.

Know when and how to access mental health support for your child

Mental illnesses are common in children and young people, they can have a significant impact on their development, relationships and their performance in school. Getting help early can prevent symptoms from becoming more severe and support a faster recovery. 

Where do I start if my child or teen needs help?

A good place to start is by talking with your child/teen about how things have been going for them and what you’ve noticed.

Keep in mind that children and teens vary in their ability to talk about their feelings and experiences. They may not have the vocabulary to describe feelings. They also may not understand what’s going on for them or make the connections between something in their life and their struggles.

How do I talk to my child or teen?

Here are some tips to help start a conversation with your child:

  • Find a good time and place to talk. Driving to and from places, preparing dinner, or cleaning up after a meal are great opportunities to talk.
  • Ask how they are or if they’d like to talk about anything that’s going on for them.
  • If they say they’re fine or nothing is wrong, explain why you’re concerned and offer specific examples that you’ve noticed.
  • Acknowledge how it must be difficult for them.
  • Ask about what strategies/actions they find helpful. Acknowledge their strengths.
  • Discuss how mental health is part of everyone’s life – and not just about severe problems.
  • Talk about how sometimes it can take the assistance of others to overcome difficulties. Ask if they would they like to talk with someone.
  • Ask them what they think would help or what they think they need.
  • Offer to make an appointment for your child/teen to see your family doctor – physical issues can sometimes have mental health symptoms associated with them. It’s important to check if there’s any physical issues.
  • Let them know you want to help and that they can always come to you.
  • If your child doesn’t want to talk, let it go and try again in a few days.
  • If you have concerns that your child may using alcohol or other drugs, get tips on how to talk to your child about drugs.

Get more information about child and youth mental health