How to Talk to Your Kids About Depression

Hannah and Clay talking at their lockers in an episode of 13 Reasons Why
13 Reasons Why via Netflix

Don't be defensive.

Tips for Discussing Depression With Your Kids

Talking about mental health with your children is tough, but it has to be done.

With shows like 13 Reasons Why increasing in popularity, kids these days know a lot more about mental illness than you'd think.

But rather than letting pop culture explain it to them, it's important to sit down and discuss mental illnesses like depression with your kids.

Before you have that conversation, read our tips for the right way to talk to your kids about depression.

13 Reasons Why via Netflix

Do Your Research

Before you get to discussing depression with your kids, make sure you have all the facts. It's important to know what depression really is when going into this conversation, because it's so much more than simply being sad or blue every once in a while.

Read up on depression facts from places like the American Psychiatric Association and the National Institute of Mental Health, then present this information to your child.

13 Reasons Why via Netflix

Don't Shelter Them From Important Information

There are a lot of facets of depression that aren't easy to talk about, so you might want to shield your child from them. We strongly recommend being as upfront and honest with them about the mental illness as possible. Kids are smart. After you talk to them about it, they'll likely do a little research on their own. When they realize you didn't tell them all the facts, they may feel betrayed or as though they can't really trust you. The easiest way to avoid that happening is by giving them all the information right off the bat. Don't be afraid to go into detail, because they deserve to know everything there is to know.

13 Reasons Why via Netflix

Talk With Them, Not at Them

With these sorts of discussions, it's in your best interest to talk with your child, not at them. They will be so turned off if you approach them like they don't have a single clue and need to hear every word you're saying. They know more than you think, so keep this discussion a bit like an open forum. Let them interrupt and ask questions. Don't treat it like a presentation, because they won't listen.

13 Reasons Why via Netflix

Listen to What They Have to Say

Going off the above point, make sure to fully listen to what your child has to say during the conversation. Make sure all their questions are answered and they aren't left more confused about the mental illness. They should walk away from the discussion feeling like they know everything they need to know about depression. They may have questions later on, so be prepared to listen and answer those, as well. It's important to note that this conversation should be ongoing and not necessarily a one-time thing.

13 Reasons Why via Netflix

Steer Clear of Stigmatizing Mental Illness

Talking about any mental illness is tough, which means it's easy to play into the stigmas that already surround it. It's important to steer clear of stigmatizing depression when you have this conversation. Don't talk down about the illness, because it's an illness like any other. Keeping the stigmas out of your conversation will make it easier for your child to process what mental illness actually is. Plus, they'll feel more comfortable talking about it with you and their friends throughout life.