Will I Have and Mental Illness?

Child mental health

We were eating breakfast the other day when by daughter asked,

“Daddy, what is mental illness?”

“…well sweetie, like all of the other amazing questions you ask me, the answer is not easy for me to explain. Can you let me think about it for a little while? I won’t have a great answer, but I’ll try my best…”

Fast forward to a car ride later that afternoon…I’ve thought about your question from breakfast and I think I can give you a better answer now than I could then, but it’s not perfect and there are many people who might explain it differently so I’ll do my best and then we can talk with someone else if you or I have more questions.

Mental illness is a broad term used to group lots and lots of people together based on some very general characteristics that others have decided are important. Kind of like, you are categorized as Latina because your family is from a country colonized by Spaniards or you’re a girl because… That’s kind of how the term mental illness is. The categories can lead to prejudice and discrimination, but they are also something you should be proud of.

A person can be categorized as having a mental illness if doctors decide that their ability to think and act is not “normal.” That looks very different in different people and can last for a person’s life or a short period of time.

We spoke for a good 10 minutes about my personal experience with depression and anxiety as well as the mental illnesses other family members have experienced.

Daddy, will I have a mental illness?

Well, I don’t know. Most people have some form of mental illness during their life. If you ever feel like you are thinking or acting in a way that is disabling then talk with mommy, me or another person you trust…#OurKidsAreListening #ImTrying