According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 2.7 million children between the ages of 11-17 were diagnosed with depression in the period of 2016 to 2019. Another study in 2020 states that at least 9% of African American teenagers reported having symptoms of depression and the numbers have been increasing since then. Unfortunately, many people in the Black community don’t discuss mental health issues and very few will ever seek help for it though these disorders can be disruptive to their lives. You can help break this cycle by talking to your children about depression and working together to manage it.
1. Let Them Know It’s A Medical Problem
It’s common for children to think that what’s happening with them is unique and there’s nobody who can relate. You can help dispel this myth by discussing the fact that depression is a medical condition that affects millions of people, including adults.
From a health perspective, it’s no different from finding out that you have any other illness. Most importantly, let them know that a doctor can help them manage it.
2. Discuss Other Conditions
It’s possible to have more than one mental health disorder at the same time. While talking about depression, let your child know that some people experience both depression and anxiety.
A few of the symptoms to look out for are being worried about the future, wanting to avoid social situations, being afraid of separation from their parents, and different phobias. You should also talk about panic attacks.
3. Listen Without Judgement
While giving them information, make sure there’s room for them to share their feelings without being judged. Though there are general symptoms of depression, it’s not uncommon for people to have experiences specific to them. What’s important is that they feel safe sharing with you so you can understand what your child is dealing with.
4. Be Patient With Their Questions
Understandably, your child will have a lot of questions about depression and any other mental health disorder they might have. They might want to know about seeing a doctor, if they need to tell their friends, if their school will need to know, and if they’ll need to take medication.
It’s best to do a lot of research so you can answer their questions well. If there’s something you need to find out, let them know that you’ll get back to them as soon as you’ve cleared things up.
5. Assure Them It’s Not Their Fault
Depression can be such a misunderstood condition and many children think they did something wrong to feel the way they do. Worse yet,