‘It’s important to have those conversations’: How to talk to kids about mental health

On Our Sleeves national survey finds that 93% of parents with kids under 18 think it’s important to talk to their children about mental health

Mental health is top of mind for many parents, from bullying to depression, school shootings, and suicides. But many parents admit they don't know how to turn asking kids about their day, Into meaningful conversations about mental health. From a quick chat on the way home from school to a quiet conversation before bed, Zenniere Bowry-Thomas makes time every day to talk with her two kids.

DETROITMental health is top of mind for many parents, from bullying to depression, school shootings, and suicides. But many parents admit they don’t know how to turn asking kids about their day, Into meaningful conversations about mental health.

From a quick chat on the way home from school to a quiet conversation before bed, Zenniere Bowry-Thomas makes time every day to talk with her two kids.

“I think it’s important to have those conversations with your children, so they have a forum to share how they’re feeling,” said Bowry-Thomas.

Seven-year-old Chesne Thomas says he appreciates his talks with his mom.

“It feels good to tell my mommy if I had a good day or a bad day,” said Chesne Thomas.

A new national survey from On Our Sleeves finds that 93% of parents with kids under 18 think it’s important to talk to their children about mental health.

59%, however, said they needed help starting that conversation.

“Unfortunately, there’s a lot of things that kids carry inside, and we don’t know what they’re thinking, we don’t know what’s going on at school,” said Nationwide Children’s Pediatric Psychologist Ariana Hoet, PH.D. “And so it’s important that we go to them.”

On Our Sleeves aims to provide parents and caregivers with conversation starters, frank advice, and tip sheets to open lines of communication and keep the conversation going.

“First, we have to create the habit with our children of just talking, feeling comfortable, talking with each other, making it normal,” Hoet said.


About the Authors:

Dr. McGeorge can be seen on Local 4 News helping Metro Detroiters with health concerns when he isn't helping save lives in the emergency room at Henry Ford Hospital.

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.