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Parents
 
As a parent, you are already a natural helper to your teen or young person. Even though your youth is gaining more independence and figuring out their path in the world, it can be hard to manage the many pressures and decisions they face. They need you, even though they might not say it or show it. The majority of
youth identify that their parents or a close family member are the people they will turn to when they need help…but are you ready to talk about some serious stuff?
Where can you start? We C.A.R.E is about promoting positive youth mental health. Here are a few steps you can take to help stay connected with teens/youth in your life.
 

 with your child and reassure them you are always there.

  • show your child by your actions that you care, ie., send a positive text message, go for coffee, show up at their activities, share a meal
  • reassure your child that being a teenager can be challenging, that help is always available and  that you are there for them
  • pay attention to what your child is doing and saying, who they are hanging out with, notice changes

  your child to share what’s happening in their lives and listen without judging.

  • engage in conversations on a regular basis, so you're not only talking when you see problems. Ask  questions but be prepared for some answers you may not like.
  • find the right time to talk that works for both of you, put away distractions and give your full attention
  • avoid minimizing what your child is dealing with, stay away from sarcasm, ridicule and put downs

 out to your child and ask them what they need.

  • It is important that you take the lead from your child and assist them in a way they feel is supportive
  • promise privacy but never promise confidentiality! Let your child know that their well- being is the most important thing to you and you may need to get support
  • your child may need to think about 'what they need', promise to revisit the conversation again

 and encourage your child in all that they do and support them in seeking help when needed.

  • encourage your child to use helpful strategies to take care of themselves when under stress, i.e., eat well, exercise, get enough sleep, avoid drugs or alcohol, balance activities.
  • offer to look up resources and supports with your child.  Explore www.kidshelpphone.ca or the We CARE website together.
  • connect with other supports if you have concerns. Visit the Getting Help section of this web site.
Is everything okay with your teen/youth?
It may be difficult for you to imagine that your child could be struggling with their mental health. Mental health problems are often overlooked because they are not always physically seen, and can be difficult to identify. As well, your child may find it difficult to ask for help because of the stigma attached to many mental health issues. By educating ourselves and others, we can help to reduce this stigma. Like any physical illness, mental illness is not the fault of the person struggling. It is important that they receive the support they need
 
How can you tell if your child may be struggling with their mental health?
When mental health problems are left untreated, children and youth may cope in unhealthy ways. It is important to be alert to changes in your child. Here are some potential signs to watch for:
  • Change in behaviours, friends, or regular activities
  • Difficulty sleeping, or sleeping far too much
  • Low energy and motivation
  • Frequent outbursts of anger or rage
  • Decrease in marks and school performance
  • Avoidance of family or friends
  • Signs of self-injury
  • Use of alcohol or drugs
  • Change in personality
  • Constant worry or sadness
  • Negative self-talk
  • Change in physical health and/or hygiene
  • Loss of appetite or overeating
  • Has experienced a recent loss
What can you do if you notice a change in your child’s behaviour?
If you have noticed warning signs in your child, it is important to talk with them about what specific changes you have noticed. Try to remain caring, open and supportive.
 
 
Prepare Yourself
  • Write down what you want to say
  • Think about what you would do if your child had a negative reaction
  • Find out about mental health resources in your community
  • Talk to others who are in contact with your child regularly to see if they have noticed similar changes and behaviours
  • Talk to other parents who may have dealt with similar situations
  • Choose an appropriate time and place to have the conversation
Spend Quality Time Together
It is important for you and your child to have regular opportunities to talk openly. 
Here are some ways to open up a conversation with your child:
  • Prepare and eat dinner together
  • Take advantage of car rides to talk
  • Send a text to your child to check in
  • Offer to help your child with their homework
  • Go for a walk together
  • Play a game together
  • Take interest in healthy hobbies and activities they are interested
  • Choose a day of the week with your child to have regular one-on-one time together 
 
What if I'm really concerned for a young person's safety?
ANY SUSPICION THAT A YOUTH MAY BE CONSIDERING SUICIDE MUST BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY.  WHEN THE YOUTH'S ACTIONS OR WORDS ARE CAUSE FOR CONCERN, TAKE THE YOUNG PERSON TO THE NEAREST HOSPITAL EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT OR CALL 911.
 
What are the danger signs?
In some cases those who die by suicide, do not give any warning at all. Many, however, offer clues and communicate their plans to others. Individuals expressing suicidal intentions should always be taken seriously.  Some of the signs to look out for are:
  • direct suicide threats such as “I want to die,” or indirect threats such as “You would be better off without me”
  • personality changes or withdrawn behaviour
  • hoarding medication
  • giving away prized possessions
  • lack of interest in future plans
  • isolation from friends and colleagues
  • depression
Threats that may signal imminent danger often come from people who are isolated, who have attempted suicide before (and then were discovered only by accident), are impulsive, and have access to lethal means (weapons, drugs). (Adapted from Canadian Mental Health Association)
 

DO

DON'T

  • Stay calm
  • Take it seriously
  • Physically get at the youth's level, i.e., sitting
  • Present as caring
  • Explore thoughts and feelings
  • Identify and prioritize immediate stressors
  • Seek assistance
  • Promise Privacy
  • Panic!
  • Ignore the person's need to talk
  • Allow external disruptions
  • Minimize the youth's distress
  • Moralize about the young person's thoughts or feelings
  • Be reluctant to draw on the expertise of others
  • Leave the youth alone
  • Promise confidentiality
 
Do you need to get help?
There are many services available for youth and their families in Grey and Bruce Counties. 
Visit the Getting Help page.