Mum, Dad and My Mental Health!

The blog post below was written by Jo. Jo previously ran Alumina (our online self-harm support group) as part of selfharmUK. She now works as a Senior Project Manager at Redthread.

How honest should you be when it comes to talking to your parents about your mental health?

I asked my teenagers this and this was their advice:

“Tell them enough to know the big picture but not all the details as they might worry too much and then that is annoying!"

What do you reckon to that?

As a parent I want to know all about my kids’ lives, but I also realise they don’t always want me to know, and in reality, everyone deserves their own privacy and respect.

So, here are our top tips for how honest you should be when talking to your parents about your mental health:

⭐️ If you have a few episodes of feeling very down or teary every week; let them know you are feeling blue.

⭐️ If you ever hear any voices – let them know.

⭐️ Self-harm might freak them but if you feel it’s getting out of control and taking over you, communicate that to them in someway.

⭐️ If you ever feel unsafe in anyway (at school, at home, with your friends), let them know.

⭐️ Anger is strong and powerful, it might get you into trouble and difficult situations. If your knuckles are regularly bruised, if you are going out looking for a fight - get help. Things take a turn for the worst very quickly if your anger regularly flares up fast.

⭐️ For all of us our food intake varies depending on how we are feeling but, if you are restricting your eating regularly or binging often, please let them know. 

⭐️ It's about knowing yourself well enough to notice when you are going downhill in your own mental health. As parents we are often very in-tune with our children so you might think we haven’t noticed. In reality, it is probably that we are waiting for you to talk to us as we are too scared to upset you by saying the wrong thing. 

⭐️ Please don’t think we don’t care or haven’t noticed you are feeling down, sometimes we are worried about making you feel worse, especially if you feel defensive. Try to remember that we don’t want an argument any more than you do, so please forgive us when we get it wrong! 

⭐️ As parents we hear terrible stories in the news and get frightened by all the stories of teenagers taking their lives. We often act of out panic because of this. Help us by texting us to tell us how you are doing once a day (it means we aren’t annoying you then by asking all the time!). Let us know bits about your day so we don’t bombard you with questions. 

⭐️ Lastly, sometime we might seem 'too busy' but please know that we are NEVER too busy to sit with you and talk to you about your mental health.

As parents sometimes, not always, we know how to help: let us help you. 



Alumina is a free, online 7 week course for young people struggling with self-harm. Each course has up to 8 young people, all accessing the sessions from their own phones, tablets or laptops across the UK. The courses take place on different evenings of the week and are run by friendly, trained counsellors and volunteer youth workers. You don’t need an adult to refer you or sign you up, and no-one will see or hear you during the sessions – you’ll just join in via the chatbox. We want to help you to find your next steps towards recovery, wherever you are on your journey.

Find out more