Teen boy talking to his dad

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If you are a teenager struggling with your mental health, you might hesitate to share your concerns with your parents. You don’t want them to overreact, and you might be afraid that they will get upset or scared from your disclosure.

Reaching out for help can be one of the best decisions you’ll take for your well-being. Here are some practical tips about starting the conversation with your parents.

Validate Yourself for Recognizing Your Situation

Identifying that you are struggling takes courage and honesty. Often, it feels easier to deny the issue and pretend like everything is all right. Be proud of yourself for having the willingness to admit that something is going on—this awareness is the first step towards change.

It's hard to feel confident when you're struggling with depression or anxiety, but taking some time to congratulate yourself for recognizing the problem may make it a little easier to approach your parents.

Choose a Neutral Time

Consider planning the timing of this conversation. Aim to do it when you’re not in a rush (like just before school) or when your parents might be stressed or tired (like just after coming home from a long day at work). That said, don’t overthink it too much—perfect timing doesn’t exist.

Sometimes it can be helpful to look for openings rather than planning a time, which is why the next tip might be an especially good idea. 

Talk While Doing an Activity Together

Sharing your feelings face-to-face may feel awkward and shameful. If you’re concerned about feeling uncomfortable, consider having the conversation while engaged in another task, like driving, walking the dog, or eating dinner.

Give yourself permission to wait for an opening, or approach the subject when it seems natural to. For instance, you could ask questions or steer the conversation toward similar topics before bringing up your own concerns. 

Provide Specific Information

Aim to be objective in sharing your struggles. You can borrow from the “who, what, where, when, why” template to describe the situation. For example, I’ve been feeling anxious. I notice it the most when I’m at school. I’m scared of ___ bullying me again.

Sometimes parents might not understand immediately that your struggles are not just regular teenage problems. Specifics can help them see beyond their own frame of reference. 

Have Information Ready

Coming to the conversation armed with information can make your part easier, and it can help drive the conversation forward. For instance, you can research treatment options ahead of time so that you can speak to the options that seem most supportive for you. Statistics, examples, and local counseling offices are other bits of information that can be useful to bring. 

At Idaho Youth Ranch, we help teenagers struggling with their mental health. You can schedule a consultation with us today.

 Looking for help for a friend? Here's a guide to helping a friend who is struggling


  1. https://www.healthline.com/health/benefits-of-therapy