How to Talk About Mental Health 

Mental health can be a very vulnerable thing to discuss with the people in your life, especially when everyone has different experiences, ideas, and attitudes towards it. Mental health looks really different for everyone and even for yourself at different points in your life. Whether it’s your emotional, psychological, or social health, mental health can impact your emotions, thoughts, and actions, along with your relationships, how you handle stressors, and how you live a full and healthy life. Bringing it up in conversations with the people in your life can be tricky and evoke embarrassment, shame, and stress. So, let’s talk about it so that it doesn’t have to.

How to Talk to Your Parents:

Prep the conversation: Write some notes to guide the conversation and keep it on track, especially points about your experiences and your emotions. Acknowledging the difficulty of bringing it up and naming your feelings can help prime the conversation with empathy. 

Be clear and intentional: Use specifics to describe your experiences. Name the emotions and adjectives. Come up with metaphors that are relatable to help express yourself and to help the other person understand. Rely on your relationship to use open and honest communication, both in expressing yourself and allowing them to respond. Have some self-care techniques in your back pocket to use if you feel anxious during the conversation.

Choose your location: Choose a place you feel comfortable, whether it’s at home, at the park, or another place. Consider putting your phone on Do Not Disturb and asking your parent to do the same. Limit distractions and disruptions, whether it’s from a pet, a family member, or a stranger.

Think about what comes next: What do you want to do next? How do you want to tell other people? See if the other person in the conversation has suggestions or wants to look at next options together. Come up with a plan, whatever that looks like to you, whether it’s to continue the conversation another day, to talk to a school counselor, to set up an appointment with a medical professional, or whatever is best for you and your situation.

What if they aren’t supportive?: Whether they don’t believe you or don’t believe in getting help, this does not mean your experiences aren’t real. Before the conversation, have a list of strengths, compliments, and positive reminders to use in case the conversation doesn’t go well or as you had planned. Research local options, find social media creators with relatable mental health experiences, and make a list of people you trust and people in your community you can talk to.

How To Talk To Your Friends:

Plan ahead: Before you talk with your friend, consider what you want to share. You can share your experiences and emotions while maintaining your privacy and sharing only what feels comfortable. Don’t feel like you need to overshare or disclose something too personal. Whether the conversation is spontaneous or more planned, have some talking points in your back pocket that can help focus and reorient the conversation if it goes sideways.

Set the scene: Like with talking to your parents and family, choose a place where you are comfortable and where distractions are not likely to come up. Maybe choose an activity you bond over that can ease some of the tension. If face-to-face feels too intimidating, perhaps a phone call, facetime, or text conversation feels more doable. There is no perfect here, so do what feels comfortable and natural to you.

Be honest: If they are your friends, they’ll understand and accept you. If a hurdle or roadblock comes up, discuss it and explain where you’re coming from – this can provide insight into your perspective and experiences. Don’t expect them to be a mind-reader. Acknowledge what you’re feeling, during the conversation and in regards to your mental health. If you’re experiencing something related to your mental health, both in and outside the conversation, name it.

Prepare yourself: Consider different paths the conversation could take. How can you answer their questions? What if they don’t understand, either because they haven’t experienced it themselves or because they are intolerant? What do you need to feel supported? What are your favorite indulgent activities and form of self-care?


You don’t need to explain yourself to anyone to be worthy of respect and kindness Talk to a trusted adult, whoever that is for you. It can be a teacher, family member, coach therapist, mentor, or someone else entirely.

Manage the conversation. Consider the environment, your body language, the language that you use, and rooting what you say in experiences.


You matter. Your experiences are real. Your emotions are valid.

You should and deserve to live authentically and be surrounded by people who support you fully as yourself, mental health included.

You are strong and capable, even when you don’t believe it.

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