mental health hug

Learn how to talk to your child about mental health and access support.

Where do I start if my child or teen needs help?

A good place to start is by talking with your child/teen about how things have been going for them and what you’ve noticed.

Keep in mind though, that children and teens vary in their ability to talk about their feelings or other experiences. They may not have the vocabulary to describe feelings. They may not understand what’s going for them or make the connections between something in their life and their struggles

How do I talk to my child or teen?

Some tips:

  • Find a good time and place to talk. Driving to and from places, preparing for dinner, or cleaning up after a meal are great opportunities to talk.
  • Ask how they are or if they’d like to talk about anything that’s going for them.
  • If they say they’re fine or nothing is wrong, explain why you’re concerned and offer specific examples that you’ve noticed.
  • Acknowledge how it must be difficult for them.
  • Ask about what strategies/actions they find helpful. Acknowledge their strengths.
  • Discuss how mental health is part of everyone’s life – and not just about severe problems.
  • Talk about how sometimes it can take the assistance of others to overcome difficulties. Would they like to talk with someone?
  • Ask them what they think would help or what they need.
  • Offer to make an appointment for your child/teen to see your family doctor – physical problems can sometimes have mental health symptoms associated with them so it’s important to check out if there’s any physical problems going on.
  • Let them know you want to help and that they can always come to you.
  • If your child doesn’t want to talk, let it go and try again in a few days.
  • If you have concerns that your child may using alcohol or other drugs, get tips on how to talk to your child about drugs.

Get more information about talking about mental health concerns.

What types of help are available for my child or teen?

Mental health services for children and youth are provided by:

  • Child, youth, and young adult mental health and substance use services (Fraser Health)

    Provides crisis response and specialized mental health services for children, youth, and young adults. Services for children, teens and young adults include adolescent day treatment program, adolescent psychiatric unit, the START Team (crisis intervention services), early psychosis intervention program (EPI), and child and youth outpatient psychiatry clinics.

    There is no cost for these services. A referral from a health care professional, such as your family doctor, is needed to access these programs, except for the START Team.

    Learn more about the services here.

  • Child and youth mental health services (Ministry of Children and Family Development)

    Provides general mental health assessment and treatment services for children under the age of 18 through their community child and youth mental health offices. Access is through intake clinics. There is no cost for these services but there may be a wait period before receiving services.

    Learn more about the services here.

  • Pediatricians and physicians

    Mental health services for children and youth may also be delivered by pediatricians and physicians. There is no cost for these services for children, teens and families who are covered by the Medical Services Plan of B.C.

    Doctors can also provide referrals to psychiatrists.

  • Child and family organizations

    Community organizations may offer short-term counselling for young people who are experiencing mild mental health problems.

  • Schools

    Support services and programs to help prevent mental health problems from being a barrier to learning. Contact your child’s school for more information.

  • Private counsellors psychologists

    Fee for service professionals provide counselling and assessment services. Costs may be covered through extended medical plans or Employee Assistance Program services through your work.

    Visit B.C. Associations of Clinical Counsellors for more information about services provided by private counsellors.

    Visit B.C. Psychological Association for more information about services provided by psychologists.


The following resources provide more information on how to get help for your child or teen:

  • Mental health system navigation videos
    Videos for families on B.C.’s mental health system and the different types of mental health professionals.
  • Kelty Mental Health
    Provincial resource centre that provides mental health and substance use information, resources, and support to children, youth and their families who reside in B.C.
  • FamilySmart
    Provides families with an opportunity to speak with other families who understand and may be able to offer support or advice on what has worked for them.
  • Confident Parents: Thriving kids
    Family-focused phone-based coaching service effective in reducing mild to moderate behavioural problems and promoting healthy child development in children ages 3-12.

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