Having a child who is suffering from a mental illness can be worrying, tiring, and stressful — especially if they’re a teenager since their feelings are already all over the place. Most of the time, your child won’t tell you what is wrong, why they had a bad day, or why they’re sobbing in their bedrooms in the dark. That doesn’t mean they don’t want you to help or even be around them. Here are some things you can do to help them, even if they don’t want it.

Let Them Know That Their Feelings Are Valid

Sometimes, teenagers are just scared they’ll be a burden or dramatic if they tell you what’s bothering them. An important thing to do is to make sure that whatever they are feeling that their emotions are valid and that you are there for them. It may be uncomfortable but for a child who thinks their parents don’t care, that can lead to scary thoughts. If they won’t talk (or they honestly don’t know why they feel upset), there are other ways to help them without words. You can write a letter telling them how important they are to you, how much you love them, and that you’ll always be by their side. Words from someone they love can make a difference. This could help them feel less lonely during a dark time.

Encourage Them To Do Something

Your child might not have the energy to do anything they love or enjoy something they usually would. It can be difficult to figure out how you can help when they won’t get out of bed or seem lifeless to everything. This is the time where you have to bring down the hammer and drag them out of bed. If you let them be alone for a long period of time, it could lead to your child’s thoughts become so evil that it’s dangerous. Don’t let that happen. Even if they yell and tell you to leave them alone, they will thank you for it later. Make them do something that they usually enjoy to brighten their mood or calm them down. Or you can tell them to write down what they’re feeling because most of the time, it’s too hard to say the words aloud to another person. Writing it all out won’t only help them but you better understand what’s going on in their head.

Let Them Cry It Out

Most of the time, crying can be a great way to feel better. If you hear your child crying in their bedroom or if they burst into tears in front of you, hold them in your arms. Don’t tell them that crying is weak or that it won’t solve anything, that will just make them feel worse.

If nothing works, take your child to a therapist. With a therapist, your child can learn ways to cope with their illness. Being medicated might be a suggestion. Antidepressants don’t cure depression but they help get someone through the day. In the end, listening and showing you care can really help.

Photo: Getty Images

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