Communicating with children about any difficult topic is complex, but especially when the topic is about mental health. Piaget’s stages of cognitive development and Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development sets the stage for understanding how age appropriate conversations can aid in children’s understanding of mental health issues. Then, by conducting a thorough literature review, three common areas where these conversations take place were identified; at home, at school, and at a medical setting. All of these settings have strengths and weaknesses in their ability to facilitate quality mental health conversations with children. After examining these settings, this paper explores some of the current themes and suggestions for communicating to children about mental health issues. These suggestions include using simple language, using activities to engage the child, and relating the child to the information. This paper then discussed multiple resources for adults aiding these conversations such as scripts written by psychologists. In the interest of exploring accessibility to support these conversations for the adult facilitators, this paper turns to Artificial Intelligence (AI), specifically ChatGPT. Overall, the use of ChatGPT to provide adult facilitators with scripts appears promising with a few limitations.
Semester/Year of Award
Dr. Dan Florell
Mentor Department Affiliation
Open Access Thesis
Camp, Maggie L., "The Complexities of Communicating with Children about Mental Health Issues" (2023). Honors Theses. 981.