How can you best help your child struggling with mental health or substance use?


Recognize Your Strengths

Many parents feel like they don't know how to start talking to their children about mental health and substance use--and even worse, that kids just won't listen. However, research has shown that parents have a significant influence in their children’s decisions regarding drugs and mental health. It's worth it to get educated and have the tough conversations--you have more power than you realize!


Build Your Skills

There are a lot of resources available for parents to learn more about how to talk to their children about mental health and substance use (see below). Check it out and decide what tips work best for your family. If possible, bring grandparents, aunts and uncles, and other caregivers on board so your child is hearing consistent messages around these issues. And consider sharing info with other parents--knowledge is power!


Check In Regularly

Once you have a clear picture of what you want to communicate to your child, start your conversations early and keep them going regularly. It may feel awkward at first, but you and your child will both become more comfortable with these topics over time. Remember, the goal isn't to lecture or have "the talk." Instead, use small moments to keep the conversation going. It can help to use opportunities without eye contact (like when you're driving).

More Tips

If you find out your child is dealing with mental health issues or substance use, don't panic! Stay calm and non-judgmental, let your child talk freely, and get as many facts as possible.

Get Professional Help

Your family doesn't have to struggle alone. Visit our resources page to find local supports to help you and your child. Recovery is possible with help--but difficult if you try to tackle it alone.

Sources/Learn More

Talk. They Hear You.


National Institute on Drug Abuse


NIDA for Teens


UPCN Rx Parent Toolkit (pdf)


National Alliance on Mental Illness


American Foundation for Suicide Prevention


National Suicide Prevention Lifeline



Want to do more to support youth in the community?