Talking About Mental Illness: Ways to Discuss Mental Health with Your Child

Mental health is often the elephant in the room. While recent years have seen mental health awareness, research, and treatment progress to new levels, talking about mental health is as difficult as ever. There are many reasons mental illness can go unheard. In some cases, it can be difficult for a person who hasn’t experienced a mental illness to fully understand the effect a mental disorder can have. In other cases – and this is especially true for parents – it may be hard to acknowledge the fact that their child has a mental illness. In yet other cases, the stigma of mental illness can prevent a person from seeking the help they need. mental illness
The true extent and prevalence of mental illness is only now coming into focus. Studies currently estimate that at least one in five Americans suffers from mental illness.
Unless a person is entirely isolated from the world, chances are they know at least one person who is affected by the issue. Hard as it can be to acknowledge, mental illness isn’t something that happens somewhere far away – it is right in front of every person. However, with the subject so rarely brought up, millions of people needlessly suffer from illnesses that can be helped; as a matter of fact, over half of all mental illnesses go untreated.

Recognizing the Signs of Mental Illness in Your Child

As a parent, there are few things harder than to see your child suffer. Mental illness, unfortunately, can be a large factor in causing this suffering – and the earlier it is caught, the less damage it will have a chance to do. Left untreated, mental illness can severely impair your child’s future. As such, there are several tips to keep in mind that can help curtail the problem in its nascent stages:

  • Make time to talk. Allowing your child to feel safe when approaching you with a problem is paramount in helping them open up.
  • Don’t judge. Mental illness is an unpleasant endeavor. Although it may be hard to know what your child is going through, simply telling them to “get better” can cause more harm than good.
  • Watch for the signs. Rapid changes – for example, ones in appearance, routine, or mood – can point to the existence of a mental illness.
  • Consider professional help. If you suspect your child has a mental illness, it is better to be safe than sorry.

Trails Carolina Can Help

Trails Carolina is a wilderness therapy program for struggling teens, ages 11-17. Our students commonly deal with issues such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, trauma, and other behavioral challenges.
For more information about Trails Carolina, please call 800-975-7303 today!

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Trails saved my daughter’s life. Amanda is an amazing human and a brilliant therapist. I am so grateful to her, Science Steve, and the other wonderful people who could reach my daughter at a time when I could not.

Margot Lowman August 2022

Great life changing experience for our son. After becoming addicted to gaming during covid he was very depressed. At Trails he experienced the wilderness, Science Steve, learning survival skills and top notch therapy and support etc… I highly recommend! This gave our son and our family a renewed family bond full of love and excitement about his bright future.

Winnifred Wilson July 2022


Outstanding clinical work and superb staff! There’s a great culture at this company and it shows with how they engage with families/clients.

Kristin Brace June 2022


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Trails Carolina’s wilderness camps for troubled teens are dedicated to helping teens work through behavioral or emotional difficulties, build trusting relationships with their family and peers, and achieve academic success.