Conversations with young people about mental health and substance use may feel challenging. Here are some places to start.
Roughly 70% of serious mental health challenges start before the age of 24. Sometimes, youth may feel reluctant to share what they are going through, due to stigma or not knowing how or where to get help. There are resources to support youth, parents, and caregivers to know where to start.
Starting a conversation
Speaking to young people about mental health and substance use can feel uncomfortable – you may feel that you don’t have all the answers, or don’t know how to begin. Kelty Mental Health has helpful tips on how to start conversations if you are concerned about a young person in your life
Try to talk about mental health and substance use often in your family, these are important topics for everyone to be aware of. Speaking openly and regularly about these topics can help young people to feel like it’s ok to discuss.
Speak with them while doing an activity, such as taking a drive or playing a game they enjoy. This can help young people feel less pressure.
Treat them like an adult. Listen and ask what they think would help and how you could best support. This can help show that you want to work together and are taking what they say seriously.
Together, you may decide to speak to a professional to find help or information. There are many reasons to speak to a professional – to learn more about what you are experiencing, to get a new perspective, or even just to have another person on your team. You do not need to be experiencing a crisis to seek support. Here are some places to start if you decide to reach out for help:
If you have a family doctor, you can contact them for information about services in your community. They can assist you by making a referral to additional professionals and support your family between appointments or if you are on a waitlist.
A school counsellor can also be a great person to reach out to. They can give advice about what the young person in your life is experiencing and help navigate other services to support them.
Reach out to a Foundry youth clinic (if available in your community) or access online services at Foundry Virtual. Foundry provides many services for young people, including counselling and peer support.