Use these guidelines to create your family’s plan. Customize, modify, or edit the suggestions to meet your family’s needs, principles, values, and living situation.
- Discuss family guidelines with your spouse or partner, and come to an agreement before presenting the plan to your child.
- Make sure all adults involved in raising the child are on the same page, unified, and sharing a consistent message on mental health.
- Model the behavior you want to see in your child. As parents, our actions speak louder than our words.
- Be intentional about talking with your child about mental health. Create regular opportunities for a two-way dialogue. They are likely to encounter numerous challenges during the adolescent years, therefore your conversation on the topic shouldn’t just be a one-time talk.
- Make it clear to your child that mental health is an important topic and that you’re comfortable talking about it, or having them approach you with the topic.
- Listen more than you speak. Let them express their thoughts, feelings, opinions, and experiences. If they feel they are genuinely being heard, they will feel more comfortable opening up to you.
- Eat a meal as a family consistently at least five days a week. Research has shown that regular family dinners without electronic distractions can improve mental and behavioral health in youth. If family meals are not possible, set aside other regular time weekly to engage in an activity together that lends itself to open conversation and active listening.
- Answer your child’s questions honestly at an age-appropriate level.
Promote Healthy Behaviors and Self-Care
- Teach your child strategies to handle stress in a positive manner
- Encourage your child to engage in healthy behaviors such as music, writing, art, sports, exercise, faith, helping others, etc.
- Support them in the activities that they enjoy
- Read notMYkid’s blog entry on helping stressed teens
- Ensure that your child is getting sufficient sleep, exercise, nutrition, and time outdoors.
- Maintain healthy limits on electronic use or “screen time” by your child
- Research online. Learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of depression, self-injury, and suicidal ideation.
- Participate in a suicide prevention or intervention workshop such as SafeTALK, QPR, or ASIST.
- Lock up and monitor alcohol, prescription drugs, over the counter medications, and weapons in your home.
- Restrict access to items that can be used to self-injure.
- Pay attention to your child’s behavior, words, and non-verbal communication
- Be conscious of your child’s technology use and what they’re reading, posting, and encountering on their phones and tablets.
- Get familiar with the apps and websites your teen uses.
- Consider the use of parental control and monitoring software such as Bark. (Use code NOTMYKID for 30 days free)
- Check your child’s room, vehicle, or backpack on a regular basis
Educate Your Community
- Educate your friends, family members, and other parents on strategies related to preventing and responding to depression, self-injury, and suicide
- Elicit the support of family, friends, coaches, religious leaders, community members, etc. to make youth mental health a priority.
- Encourage members of your community to create their own prevention and intervention plans as well
- If you discover that your child is struggling with depression, self-injury, or suicidal thoughts, get connected with a behavioral health professional or agency for guidance and assistance. You can contact notMYkid by texting the word “QUESTION” to our assistance line at (602) 584-8474. You’ll be sent a form to fill out and a notMYkid staff member will contact you. You can also call notMYkid’s office at (602) 652-0163. Note: The notMYkid numbers are not for immediate crisis intervention. If you are helping someone who is actively suicidal, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255
- Visit our resource and support page to find behavioral health resource locators, information on support groups, and other behavioral health assistance.