What Methods Do You Use to Communicate With Parents About Mental Health?

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    Counselor Brief

    What Methods Do You Use to Communicate With Parents About Mental Health?

    To uncover strategies for discussing children's mental health needs with parents, we begin with a technique from a Clinical Director who emphasizes the importance of in-person or phone conversations. Alongside expert advice, we've also gathered additional answers that provide a spectrum of communication methods. From direct telephone calls to distributing mental health newsletters, here are six effective ways to bridge the communication gap between educators and parents.

    • Opt for In-Person or Phone Discussions
    • Arrange Confidential Parent-Teacher Meetings
    • Send Informative Emails to Parents
    • Conduct Insightful Home Visits
    • Communicate via Direct Telephone Calls
    • Distribute Mental Health Newsletters

    Opt for In-Person or Phone Discussions

    As a child and adolescent psychologist who works predominantly with youth who have experienced trauma, in my work with Sentinel Foundation, I often have to have difficult conversations with parents. My go-to approach is to try for an in-person meeting, and, if that's not available, a phone call. I want to be able to have true back-and-forth conversations where the parents feel heard, understood, and supported.

    The first goal of meeting with parents is to get their perspective, to gain an awareness of what their daily life looks like parenting their child, their hopes, and their struggles, etc. With this information, I can then house my observations of their child into the current narrative of their child and their family. This makes it more likely that the parents will not only believe what I am sharing but also be willing to adjust parenting strategies or engage in additional resources.

    Ashley E. Poklar
    Ashley E. PoklarClinical Director, Sentinel Foundation

    Arrange Confidential Parent-Teacher Meetings

    One of the key ways school counselors reach out to parents regarding their child's mental well-being is by arranging confidential meetings specifically with the parents and teachers. These meetings are designed to provide a safe and private environment for discussing sensitive issues. Here, counselors can share observations, progress, and concerns directly with the parents, enabling a collaborative approach to the child's mental health.

    The personalized nature of these meetings often ensures that parents are actively involved and well-informed about the school's mental health initiatives. If you're a parent, consider reaching out to your child's counselor to set up such a meeting to stay informed about your child's mental health at school.

    Send Informative Emails to Parents

    School counselors often employ email as a tool for communicating effectively with parents on matters of mental health. They send out regular updates that can include information on how to recognize certain behaviors, strategies to support their children at home, and various resources for professional help if needed. These emails also often contain attachments of articles or guides that can assist parents in further understanding their child's emotional and psychological needs.

    The goal is to keep parents informed and engaged in the process of managing and improving their children's mental health. As a parent, make sure to check your email for these valuable updates from your child's school counselor.

    Conduct Insightful Home Visits

    Home visits are another method used by some school counselors to engage parents on a deeper level regarding mental health issues. By visiting the family's home, counselors can directly observe the child's home environment, which may provide further insight into the child's behaviors and needs. This approach allows counselors to offer tailored advice and support not only to the child but to the whole family unit.

    It's an opportunity to foster a trusting relationship between the counselor and the family. Parents are encouraged to welcome school counselors into their homes if they are offered such an opportunity, as it can be highly beneficial for the child's mental health support.

    Communicate via Direct Telephone Calls

    Telephone calls offer a direct and immediate way for school counselors to speak with parents about their child's mental health. In these conversations, counselors can quickly convey important information, address any urgent concerns, and provide a human touch to communication that written messages sometimes lack. It allows for real-time dialogue, question-and-answer exchanges, and the opportunity to schedule follow-up appointments or meetings.

    Telephone calls also facilitate a sense of urgency and importance that written communications may not convey. Parents should feel free to call their child's school counselor if there are pressing issues they wish to discuss.

    Distribute Mental Health Newsletters

    School counselors may also utilize newsletters as a method to share insights and knowledge about mental health with a broader audience of parents. These newsletters often highlight different mental health topics, strategies, and support options available within the school and the community. They can serve as a useful tool for education and awareness, keeping mental health at the forefront of school community discussions.

    By regularly reading these newsletters, parents can stay informed and proactive in addressing mental health concerns. To remain updated on mental health topics at your child's school, parents should subscribe to and read the school's newsletters.