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.
Lauren Ostrowski, MA, LPC, NCC, DCC, CCTP
Lauren Ostrowski, MA, LPC, NCC, DCC, CCTP
I tailor my therapeutic approach to each client's strengths and goals

If you have already been diagnosed with attention-deficit disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder, can you go back to the people who diagnosed you with those things?

It may be that your parents would be open to you talking with someone because it sounds like you have done this in the past. I don't know whether you have a specific reason that you are thinking they may have some hesitation, but if you are comfortable saying that you would really like to talk to someone because you are feeling sad or anxious (or whichever of your concerns you feel comfortable revealing to them), that may be a way to start the process. As for how you tell them about the fact that you have harmed yourself in the past and used to be suicidal, a therapist may be able to work together with you to discuss the best way to tell them about that.

I'm not sure if you have told anyone about what you have been experiencing, but if you have some support there, perhaps they would be able to give you feedback about ways to talk with your parents as well.

You mentioned that sometimes you hear voices. This can happen for a variety of reasons, but if the voices that you hear are giving you directions and you feel as though you might follow them, that would be a time to ask for immediate help, before you follow through with what they are telling you, perhaps by calling 800-273-8255. They may be able to connect you with local resources and they can definitely talk with you in the moment that you call.

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, as if you want to hurt or kill yourself or someone else, or are in crisis, call 800-273-8255 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week), call 911, or proceed to your local emergency room.
Vivian D. Echevarria Guzman, MSC, LPC-S, NCC
Vivian D. Echevarria Guzman, MSC, LPC-S, NCC
Bilingual Licensed Professional Counselor

Family support is very helpful when having these symptoms.  I suggest looking for therapist within reach (school, through your insurance or the community, calling 2-1-1).  Once you schedule a session, you can inform them and invite them to come in.   I have found trough sceptic parents, that once they give it a chance they open up to the process of learning and healing.  I also understand that parents may become overly concerned and overprotective when hearing about your symptoms, and that’s why is important to discuss them with a therapist, normalize them, understand why you experience them, and learn how they could help you.

¿Cómo les digo a mis padres que yo pienso que tengo problemas mentales?

Estoy seguro que tengo depresión  ansiedad.  También escucho voces en mi cabeza.  Tengo problemas para dormir también.  Y he sido diagnosticado con déficit de atención y desorden obsesivo compulsivo.  Me he auto flagelado y solía tener ideas suicidas.  Como les dejo saber y les pido ayuda.

El apoyo de la familia es muy útil cuando se experimentan los síntomas que mencionas.  Te sugiero que busques un consejero (en la escuela, a través de tu plan médico, o en la comunidad, llamando al 2-1-1).  Ya que tengas tu cita, invita a tus padres.  He observado que aunque algunos padres son escépticos al principio, pero una vez le dan una oportunidad se abren al proceso de terapia y sus beneficios. También he observado que algunos padres se vuelven sobreprotectores cuando aprenden de los síntomas que sufren sus hijos, así que sería otro beneficio que aprendieran que pueden hacer para ayudarte y apoyarte. 

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. La información provista es para propósito general basado en información mínima, no constituye aviso medico. Esta información tampoco constituye una comunicación directa con un consejero o terapista y no crea una relación entre cliente y terapeuta o desarrolla ningún privilegio. Si tiene pensamientos suicidas o está en crisis puede llamar al 911 o visitar su sala de emergencias mas cercana.
Sherry Katz, LCSW
Sherry Katz, LCSW
Couples and Family Therapist, LCSW

What stops you now from telling your parents the way you are feeling?

Do you imagine asking them for therapy would be a surprise for them?

If they're paying attention to you at all, then I imagine they'd feel relief to know you're aware of having some feelings within yourself of a problem.

If you believe they'd have a negative reaction to you asking for help, this may very well be part of why you are having problems in the first place.

What reaction did your parents have when you were diagnosed with the other conditions?

I'd separate their willingness to help you from your sense of needing help.

If they do not want to help with finding a therapist for you, then start by looking for services available for people in your age group whose parents also do not wish to be involved in their child's emotional and psychological health.

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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