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Parent To Parent: Mental Health And Our Kids

by: Susan Hess, January 2006, revised October 2006


Our children and youth describe mental health as:

“Mental Health means I feel comfortable in my own skin.  I handle stressful situations without freaking out or losing control.  I am comfortable talking with others.  I like my life.  I am not afraid to ask for help.  I can bounce back from unexpected occurrences or upsetting situations.  I have dreams and hopes for the future.  I know I can be successful by doing the best I know how.  I enjoy being with my friends.  I can come up with positive solutions to solving a problem.”


If your child or youth is:

  • really sad all the time
  • cries a lot
  • often irritable with many temper outbursts
  • overreacts in their responses
  • feels hopeless
  • anxious or worried about everything
  • feels worthless consistently
  • afraid and frightened most of the time, with no explained reasons
  • “hates life”
  • wishes they were dead
  • no friends….disconnected
  • feel they have no control over their life
  • angry and aggressive much of the time


  • trouble at school with other kids
  • school marks going down
  • sleeping and eating patterns changing for no apparent reason
  • feeling exhausted, not much energy
  • wanting to be alone all the time
  • daydreaming a lot and cannot get things done
  • wanting to kill themselves
  • hurting themselves or others
  • hearing voices talking to them or about them
  • unable to concentrate
  • difficulty in making decisions most of the time
  • such words as “You’d be better off without me” or ” I may as well be dead” in their conversation



Pay attention to your child or youth’s distress.  Their pain must not be minimized.  The important thing is your child or youth’s behaviour tells you there is a problem, and / or if your instinct tells you something is wrong, reach out for help!


Talk with those you trust:

  • Family members
  • Teachers, Guidance Counsellors, Child Youth Workers, Vice Principal, Prinicipal
  • Friends
  • Community Mental Health Agencies in your area
  • Family Doctor
  • Minister, Priest, Rabbi

Check for Support Groups for parents who have a child or youth who has a mental illness / mental health problems


Treatment really does work.  Early intervention is essential.  IT CAN SAVE YOUR CHILD OR YOUTH’S LIFE!

Talking with someone can help connect you to those professionals who can best help your child or youth.  Talking with someone you trust will create a support network for you and you will know that you are not alone.

Often our kids do not have the words or know how to ask for help.  As parents, we need to be observant and try to understand what is going on in their life, so we can be their words and their voice.






About Susan Hess:

Susan Hess is a speaker, mother, widow, and award-winning volunteer, Susan Hess has the ability to move audiences to both laughter and tears with stories of children and their families who have faced the challenge of mental health problems in children.

Past Volunteer President of Parents for Children’s Mental Health, Susan is available to speak to groups of all types about the impact of children’s mental health problems on the children and their families.


(permission to reproduce granted S.Hess – Nov. 2008)