Mental Wellbeing #1 of 2: Parents, we must listen. Now!

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Yesterday was World Suicide Prevention Day. It takes place every year on September 10.

Three days ago, I posted about one possible emerging trend related to suicide. One that, if not addressed, might make matters worse for grown men everywhere (feel free to check it out here if you’ve yet to).

Today I want to address another demographic, another trend.

This isn’t an emerging trend though, but one I feel has gone on for way too long. One that’s well within our powers as parents and adults to reverse. Assuming we want to stave off permanent, devastating consequences of the life & death kind.

The kind that might befall the kids of today, before they can become the adults of tomorrow!

“Back when I was your age, I never…”

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Raise your hands if you’ve heard this (or similar) at least once before, from your parent, grandparent or just about any adult:

“Back when I was your age, I never complained about stress in school or doing chores or anything, unless I was prepared to get a good scolding from my mom and dad. So why are you so special? Snap out of it!”

No?! Really?! Well good for you (now you’re sure your parents weren’t angels-in-disguise right?)!

For the rest of us, these words probably rang painfully in our ears back then (and still do!). Yet despite resenting those words back then, guess what? We’re all saying them now ourselves. Now that we are the adults and parents.

No?! Really?! Well good for your kids (now you’re sure you aren’t an angel-in-disguise either right?)!

Sadly, your kids would be a pretty rare breed, going by many reports in recent times that talk about youths with mental health challenges who struggle to be heard by their parents.

Parents who appear to be, quite simply, DEAF!

“Fellow Parents, listen up!”

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The responses below from youths struggling with mental health issues were extracted from a feature in my country’s local daily five days ago. But really, any cursory Google search with key words like “youth”, “depression”, “parents unaware”, etc. will put to rest any doubts that this is only a localised phenomenon!

So to my fellow parents, listen up! Here’s the lowdown on what youths with mental health issues are saying about us:

  • “My parents were not very understanding, maybe due to a lack of awareness. I often wish I had greater support from them because their indifference is painful for me. I end up withholding information from them because of their apathy.”
  • “They sometimes make insensitive comments relating to mental illnesses that hurt me – comments like I am faking my condition for attention or that I do not ‘look depressed’.”
  • “I had hoped they would be more compassionate and empathetic.”
  • “My parents did not know about my condition until my hospital admission. They still do not really understand that mental health conditions are an illness and think that it is a moody phase every teenager goes through.”
  • “They say things like “These are all in your head”, “It’s all about the mindset”, “School was tough for me too, and I’m still here”.”
  • “…what hurt the most was when they said, ‘What other stress could you possibly have apart from studying?'”
  • “It was difficult for me to explain it to my parents because mental health is a foreign concept to them. It took some time for them to accept the diagnosis. I had to explain my condition and correct misconceptions that they had.”
  • “I told my brother and he shows concern but not a lot. My parents did not take the news well and it turned into an argument and escalated into a lecture session from them.”
  • “They said I did not have time to be emotionally unstable as I had exams coming up. To this day, they do not know that I self-harm and attempted suicide.”
  • “I do not tell many people about my condition in case it feels as though I want their sympathy or I am an attention-seeker.”
  • “At first, they (my parents) were focused on direct solutions, rather than just hearing me out and giving me the space to talk about what I’m experiencing. Sometimes the best thing you can do is to just listen.” 

What is it with us parents anyway?

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Don’t miss that last one: “…just listen”!

Now you try it my fellow parent/adult. Recite that “Back when I was your age…” line out loud (but make sure you’re alone!).

How does it sound now when you say it?

Doesn’t sound so great anymore now does it? Not so “problem solved” already huh?

I think I’ve made my point. Or rather, today’s youths are finally making their point just about as loud and clear as they can possibly make it, given the rising cases of mental challenges among them. Even as we, the adults who are supposed to be their main caregivers, continue to turn a deaf ear and a blind eye.

The question is, are we the so-called mature parent/caregiver/adult going to start reflecting on our own position on mental health matters? To own up to the truth that, like the ill-informed generations before us, we’ve mistakenly assumed these matters to be perpetrated by weaklings and limelight chasers.

Are we finally ready to get off our high horses or pompous worldly stage in oder to listen?

If yes, then check back in here a week from now, when I unpack some strategies we can adopt to (fingers crossed) reverse this awful trend.

Cos this is way overdue, and way too important for us to wait until the next teardrop falls, or the next bough breaks!


{Meantime, also remembering 9/11 today on its 20th remembrance anniversary. May the world never forget. And never again live through something like that, and its still-unfolding and tragic ramifications.}

3 thoughts on “Mental Wellbeing #1 of 2: Parents, we must listen. Now!

  1. It is so true that many people are plagued by mental health issues–I mean even for healthy people, there are moments of mental depression and despair that are hard to deal with. Thankfully people are more aware of this problem than before. I guess a lot of this problem come from the nuclear family social setting and the pressure of school. In the old days, children play with older children, or other children in the same village, without the pressure of the schooling, the stress of fitting in etc. In those days, parents don’t have to play such a prominent role in children’s life, but nowadays parents become one of the few resources children have to talk, play, and communicate.

    1. Thanks so much for dropping by. I just hope adults everywhere stop using our own childhood experiences to inform us of how it’s like for today’s kids. There really is a world of difference between those days versus this modern era our kids now grow up in. We need to listen better.

    2. Thanks so much for dropping by. I just hope more adults and parents will listen to the kids more, and I include myself too as I can be quite deaf at times too as a parent!

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