Children's mental health week 2023: How to connect with kids living with chronic conditions

In a 2020 study published in Development and Psychopathology, researchers found that young people with chronic health conditions reported higher rates of mental illness at 10 years, and those health problems continued to be associated with poor mental health at the ages of 13 and 15.

Children with mild health conditions, which are incurable and managed with treatment, were around twice as likely to present with poor mental health between the age of 10 and 13 years old. This shifted to 60% more likely at 15 years old. 

Dr Brady, one of the researchers on the paper, said: 'Chronic illness disrupts children’s normal lives, and this can affect their development and wellbeing. Even children with asthma, a generally treatable and less debilitating chronic condition, had higher rates of mental illness than the healthy children in our study.’ 

This Children’s Mental Health Week, we want to ensure you are armed with all of the tools you need to ensure you can spot the signs, manage, and support your child’s mental health.Run by charity Place2Be, Children’s Mental Health Week 2023’s theme is Let’s Connect. Here are the organisation's top tips for ensuring you’re connecting with your child for better wellbeing.

Talk to your child about their friends

 Studies show that adolescents who have close friendships first tend to have lower social anxiety, a higher sense of self-worth, and fewer depressive symptoms. So, as children become teenagers, be open to hearing about their friendships and try to listen without judgement. 

With social media becoming a normal part of growing up, remember to ask your child about their friends online and offline.

Find time to connect as a family 

Family life can become busy and stressful, so it’s important to find some time where you connect together. This could include simple things like cooking, watching a film, playing a game, going to the park or even doing the family shop together.

It’s also important to remember to ask your child meaningful questions when you're spending time together. Listen and learn about their experiences. 

Don’t feel afraid to ask your child about their mental health 

If you’re feeling nervous, don’t worry! These conversations don’t have to be formal or lengthy (if your child doesn’t want them to be), it’s just a time to check in. 

Mental health charity, Mind’s top tips for these conversations are: 

  1. Start the conversation in a calm and open-minded way. You might not understand exactly what they're going through, and that's okay.
  2. Try not to feel disheartened at your first attempt. They might not respond well the first time or might not want to engage at all. You can try again at a different time when they're ready.
  3. Give them the space they need. Pressuring them to talk can push them away. Let them know you're there for them and let them come to you. It's important to respect their boundaries – there are some things they might not want to share or talk about with you.’ 

Do you need more assistance with your child’s mental health? We have loads of great resources on the talkheath talkmentalhealth hub. 

Information contained in this Articles page has been written by talkhealth based on available medical evidence. The content however should never be considered a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek medical advice before changing your treatment routine. talkhealth does not endorse any specific products, brands or treatments.

Information written by the talkhealth team

Last revised: 7 February 2023
Next review: 7 February 2026