How do I tell my parents that I think I have some mental problems?

I am pretty sure I have depression and anxiety. I also have voices in my head. I have problems sleeping too. I've already been diagnosed with attention-deficit disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. I have self-harmed in the last and used to be suicidal. How do I tell them this and ask for therapy?

Kaileen McMickle, MS, LPC
Kaileen McMickle, MS, LPC
Licensed Professional Counselor

Talking with parents can be very challenging, even if they are loving and understanding.  

Have you ever discussed these issues in the past?  If so, how did they respond?  It'd make sense if you were avoiding a discussion if they have responded negatively to you, or even neutrally.  We rely on our parents for action when we are in need and it can feel so disappointing when they don't meet our needs.  If this is the case for you, you could still reach out to them if you feel safe to.  That might mean being very candid about what you need from them or what you are seeking for yourself.  Sounds like you already know you are struggling and you want to get some help which is awesome.

Do you worry they won't believe you? Or that they'll be disappointed in you for self-harming?  If you are struggling with these worries, it may be worth talking to another trusted adult about how to bring the issues up to your parents.  Maybe that adult could be part of the conversation if appropriate or available?  Also, do you have any siblings that are old enough to be part of the conversation?  Or maybe be a shoulder to lean on?  No matter what happens, social support is really important so you don't have to go through it all alone.

Is it possible that your parents or even one of your parents will be proud of you for speaking up for yourself and trying to get help?  Sometimes depression and anxiety immobilizes us because we fear the worst, when in reality there are many more possibilities.  

One of the things I have my teen clients work on if they want to communicate something to a caregiver is have them come up with a bullet-point list of the things they need them to know.  So maybe your list would include symptoms you've been struggling with, how you want to change, and what you need from them to help you change.  If you do this and it doesn't turn out well, remember that it's on them and not you.  Sometimes parents are doing the best they can, and sometimes it's not good enough.  That never means you aren't worth helping. It could be helpful to make a backup plan for how you will try to reach out to someone if they don't respond well.

You also don't specify your age, or if you are even a teen.  I'm assuming you are, but if not, you may be able to get help without their consent or help.  If you are closer to age 18, you may not have long to wait.  

I truly hope you find what you need!

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide.   If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

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