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Let's Talk About Pediatric Mental Health


Just like adults, kids and teens can have mental health conditions. And just like adults, their conditions are often brushed aside or shrouded in stigma. CHOC Children’s is here to help you start the conversation about pediatric mental illness. By talking about it, you can increase awareness of the services that are needed and help children heal.

I want to start a conversation:


CHOC Children’s has launched an ambitious effort to ensure every child and young adult in Orange County has access to mental health treatment without stigma or barriers.

Tell me more about mental health:

6 Conversation Starters

Provide the facts. Statistics about mental health are surprising, especially when it comes to kids and teens.
  • One in five young people in California will have a diagnosable mental health condition.
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death in young people ages 10-24.
  • There are no inpatient psychiatric beds for children under 12 in Orange County.
When you hear misperceptions about mental illness around you, try to change them. Like other medical conditions, there is treatment, and it is effective. In children and teens, early intervention is especially important in helping them reach their highest potential. Studies have also shown that early treatment for mental illness saves substantial money over a child’s lifetime.
Chances are that you or someone you know has a mental health disorder. Nothing gets the conversation started like a personal story. Help someone understand what it’s like to have a mental disorder, or to care for someone who does.
Watch for symptoms in those around you. If you suspect they might have a mental health condition, don’t be afraid to ask and to offer help. Studies show that talking about mental health can save lives.
Just ask questions. Even if you don’t know how to explain mental illness, break the silence anyway. You’ll likely be surprised to find that there are experts on the topic around you.
If you’re community-minded or seeking a way to give back, the area of pediatric mental health is an opportunity to make a true difference. Let people know you care about children’s mental health. Talk to your faith leader, school or community group about the need for more services for children. Or, join CHOC in the effort to expand mental health services for kids and teens in Orange County.

What Not to Say

When a conversation about mental illness happens, take care in how you respond. This is an opportunity to support someone during a situation when many people feel alone. Here are some common scenarios and tips for how you can respond.

What not to say:
 “It’s probably just a phase. She will grow out of it.”

What to say:
 “That must be really hard for her. Can I help you with anything?”

What not to say:
 “My kids are stressed, too. They have so much homework every night.”

What to say:
 “I’m so sorry to hear that. What are some things you’ve thought about doing?”

What not to say:
 “Yikes. She must be crazy.”

What to say:
 “I bet her family could really use some support right now. How are you feeling about this?”

What not to say:
 “We all need pills to get through the day!"

What to say:
 “I’m glad there is a treatment available for him. I’m here for you.”

What not to say:
 “I hope he stays away from my son.”

What to say:
 “I bet she’s really worried. We should reach out to her and see if there is anything we can do.”

What not to say:
 “She’s just trying to get attention.”

What to say:
 “Maybe there’s a bigger reason for her behavior. Do you think there’s something the other kids could do to support her?”

What not to say:
 “He should eat better or play outside more.”

What to say:
 “I hope he feels better soon. What can I do to help?”

Long Live Childhood

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