Advice & Features Articles

How to Talk to Your Kids About Mental Health

Talking about mental health with teens can be challenging. By using open-ended questions, you allow teens to answer in their own words. Here are some questions to get the conversation going and open up the lines of communication with teens.

Break the ice. Sometimes, you just need a way to engage a teenager and start a conversation.

• If you could have anyone do the voice-over for your reflections on life, who would it be?

• What is one of the most adventurous things you’ve ever done?

• What is some place that you would really like to visit?

• If you could be a contestant on any game show, which one would you choose?

• If you could have any one superpower, which one would you choose and why?

• If you had $1,000 to spend, how would you spend it?

• What is your favorite thing to do with friends?

• What is your dream car?

• If you could go on a trip anywhere with three other people, where would you go and what three people would you take?

• What was your favorite movie when you were younger?

Steer the conversation toward mental health. Incorporate these questions into your conversations to help teens identify and talk about their feelings and experiences on a deeper level.

• When do you get discouraged?

• When do you feel most vulnerable?

• What is something you like about yourself?

• What is something you are looking forward to doing within the next six months?

• What is one regret you have from last week?

• What was the highlight of your week?

• What is the biggest struggle you are facing in life right now?

• What is one personal tragedy you have overcome?

• Name one weakness and one strength you have.

• Name one short-term goal and one long-term goal you have.


Youth mental health is an area that demands our attention.  In the Dallas-Fort Worth area, there are 1.5 million young people between the ages of 10 and 24.  An estimated one in five, or about 300,000, have a diagnosable, treatable mental disorder, though less than half seek help.

Fast Facts

• 1 in 4 teens is bullied, and 3 out of 5 teens witness bullying behavior daily.

• 1 in 6 teens engages in self-harm, compared to 1 in 100 adults.

• High stress levels are the number one trigger for teen depression.

• Depression is responsible for more suicide deaths than any other risk factor.

• Suicide is the second leading cause of death among Texas teens.

• A young person dies by suicide at the rate of two per week in the DFW Metroplex.

• 8 out of 10 young people who take their own lives give warning signs of their intent.

Here are some common symptoms that indicate your teen might need help:

• Depressed or irritable mood

• Recurrent thoughts of death of suicidal ideation

• Diminished interest or pleasure

• Poor appetite or overeating

• Weight loss or weight gain

• Fatigue and loss of energy

• Feelings of worthlessness

• Inability to think or concentrate

• Insomnia (inability to sleep) or hypersomnia (inability to stay awake)

If you have observed three or more of these symptoms lasting more than two weeks and a noticeable change in your child’s functioning, it might be appropriate to have your teen evaluated by a physician or mental health professional.

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