Mental health - top tips for parents

Parenting NI

Mental health affects the way we think and feel about ourselves and others, and how we respond to daily life. We can find it hard to talk about mental health but communicating and sharing feelings with our children can make all the difference.

Make yourself available

We all have busy lives and sometimes our children may feel we are too busy to chat. Make your presence known to your child and let them know you are happy to talk and listen to them about any worries they may have. You don’t need to set aside lots of time to have a chat just opening up can make a difference. Keeping it informal and taking an interest in what they are doing allows opportunities to strike up a conversation.

Notice how your child communicates in other ways

Children and teenagers express themselves in different ways not just through talking but through play, music, behaviour, body language and facial expressions. You can learn a lot about how they may be feeling by spending time with them and watching them play or engage in activities.

Talk about your day

Set time aside each day to chat to each other about your day both the good and the less positive things that happened. Try ending the day on something positive ready for the next day.

Use appropriate language

Depending on the age of the child, they may not understand the terminology associated with mental health. Children will understand the idea of feeling sad, stressed or anxious; explain that this is what is meant when we talk about mental health. For younger children, you can use face flash cards to illustrate different emotions.

Ask for help

Remember, no one has all the answers; not knowing things about mental health is OK. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from family and friends, a doctor or support organisations.

Keep an open mind

Try to avoid being critical or dismissive of children’s feelings and be accepting in order to normalise talking about mental health.

Useful resources

Families Together is a partnership project between Parenting NI and New Life Counselling...
Mood Matters Young People programme is aimed at 14-18 year olds and gives them knowledge...
The British Red Cross home care services will provide you with the support and care to...
Family relationship support can be helpful for supporting relationships within the family...
Anger is a normal emotion, which most parents experience on a regular basis. It is often...
This programme aims to provide parents with the skills to achieve a calmer and violent...
The Engage service provides a family therapy programme available to professionals working...
Relationship support can be helpful for couples who have concerns or difficulties arising...
The teenage years can be notoriously challenging but this programme can help you navigate...
In Ctrl is a group work programme for children and young people that aims to help them...
Relationship counselling is an effective form of relationship maintenance, particularly...
Just Ask is a unique Relationships and Sexuality Education programme working specifically...
The Sustaining Healthy Relationships project is a new and innovative venture for Relate...
We’ve gathered useful advice, information and help for young people aged 8-25 and those...
The project aims to meet the maternal mental health needs at this perinatal stage and...
Are you experiencing changes in your relationship because of a brain tumour? If you, your...
Seeking Solutions offers children and young people help and support to deal with problems...
One At A Time Therapy is a single session of relationship counselling support, which can...
Parenting NI can deliver a range of 12 needs-led Employee Wellbeing Seminars to parent...
Get help finding missing relatives abroad through our international family tracing...
Relate Kids can help primary school-aged children, usually up to age 11, to deal with...
The Dads Project supports dads in Northern Ireland who are separating, separated or...
This is delivered to expectant mothers & parents of babies under 3 years of age. It...
The Engage service provides a family therapy programme available to professionals working...
Relationship support can be helpful for Individuals who have concerns or difficulties...
The Parenting Children’s Challenging Behaviour programme will: Help parents understand...
This programme provides parents with a greater awareness of mental health issues and...
We understand that a diagnosis of a chest or heart condition, or suffering a heart attack...
Steps to Cope has been developed specifically for young people who have experienced...
55% of Young People in NI are looking to Social Media for the information they need to...
The Parenting Apart Programme is aimed at parents who have separated, are separating,...
Our Wellness Service uses 1-1 Wellness Recovery Action plans (WRAP) to support new and...
Even the most loving relationships will experience stress from time to time. But by...
Speakeasy is a Public Health Agency funded, community based teaching programme for...
This 50 minute session is an accessible way for couples to check in with each other, and...
Fun, fast food for less. This is a practical six-week nutrition programme aimed at...
Positive Minds for Premature Parents supports families of premature babies to develop and...
Relate Teen can help post-primary school-aged children, usually aged 11 and over, to deal...

Helplines & Web Chats

NSPCC - Helpline
Parenting NI Free support line
Family Lives - Forum
ParentLine NI
ParentLine NI
Family Lives Forum