Mental health experts highlight the importance of talking to kids about how they feel following significant tragedies

WEST VIRGINIA (WOAY) – Now more than ever, parents having conversations about mental health with their children is crucial.

As May, Mental Health Awareness Month comes to a close, there seems to be no better time. The U.S is also in the midst of a mental health crisis following the COVID-19 Pandemic. And now, most recently, the Texas elementary school shooting just adds to such a crisis.

A new national survey found that while over half of parents still may need help talking to their kids about mental health issues, 93% of them seem to know that these conversations are key.

“I think that there is more acceptance of mental health and that it is just as important as our physical health, I think we are starting to see that come around which is encouraging,” Chief Clinical Officer at FMRS in Beckley, Tracy King says.

Like our physical health, keeping up with our mental health is just as crucial, so it’s important that every parent or guardian gets on board with talking about it with their kids.

But King says that while these conversations are important, it’s also important to limit their media exposure that might help to trigger increased negative feelings they may have towards world events and tragedies.

“They get bombarded with this through TV, social media, so we know they’re going to hear about it, but once again it’s going to be important that we do have that conversation with them about it,” she says. “We want to know, what does your child already know about what happened? And we need to be listening for maybe some misinformation they may have, or some misconceptions.”

Upon encouraging children to open up about their feelings about such tragedies, King said it’s also important to give them the facts about it in an age-appropriate way.

To help parents and caregivers talk more about mental health with their kids, On Our Sleeves, a program created by behavioral health experts at Nationwide Children’s Hospital launched the Operation: Conversation campaign.


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