Starting the Conversation

Raising Mentally Fit Kids

Why Start the Conversation?

Most parents go out of their way to raise physically healthy kids. They educate themselves about childhood injuries and illnesses, they gather information from other seasoned parents and caregivers, and they incorporate exercise into their kids' everyday lives. However, many parents never think about their kids' mental health until a pressing issue arises. As many as one in five children ages 13 to 18 lives with a mental health condition, and the lapse of time between the onset of symptoms and intervention is often 8 to10 years.

We at Starting the Conversation believe that it is equally important to focus from the beginning on children's mental wellbeing, which, after all, is part of their overall physical health. Our mission is to help parents and other caregivers be more prepared and proactive in their approach to kids' mental health and fitness, and we know that having open and effective conversations advances that goal. Learn more about our organization and how we are starting and promoting these vital conversations.

mom on bench starting a conversation with her two kids

What Do We Mean by “Raising Mentally Fit Kids"?

We all want our kids to have optimal mental health, at every age and under all circumstances. For example, if a child develops a mental illness, we want that illness to be managed so that the child can lead an active, healthy, and fulfilling life; if a child suffers a trauma, we want the longterm adverse impact of that trauma to be minimized; and if a child is engaging in destructive behavior, we want that child to find a way to stop. We know, however, that there are no easy paths, or clearcut answers, leading to these types of outcomes. Our organization provides helpful information so that parents and other caregivers can make these types of outcomes more likely. When they do that, they are raising mentally fit kids.

We believe that it is never too early to focus on kids' mental health and fitness. The research shows that about half of all cases of chronic mental illness begin by age 14, and about three fourths begin by age 24. We are helping parents and caregivers learn how to engage in effective conversations with their kids, and how to identify behaviors that should be cause for concern and action. We are also providing them opportunities to hear from mental health professionals who share their expertise on how to handle various situations and how to optimize kids' mental health.


Starting the Conversation holds events at schools, religious centers, work places, and other venues. Each event features a conversation among parents who talk about their experiences raising children, and the mental health challenges they have faced with respect to their kids. They discuss how they handled those challenges, and what they learned. Also included in every conversation is a mental health professional who adds a voice of expertise. Attendees are given an opportunity to ask questions, either as part of the conversation or privately. In addition, providers of free mental health services are on hand to answer questions and share information about their work. During 2020, we began holding our events virtually. Going forward we hope to use both in-person and virtual formats.

Please join us at one of our upcoming events, or if you would like to learn more or to schedule an event at your venue, let us know.


Starting the Conversation Event

“So much focus on physical health, this helped me to realize that we need to be prepared for anything and everything. We need to make time to connect with emotions. This needs to be a priority.”

“This program far exceeded any expectation. My life and my family’s lives have been greatly impacted by the info and stories.”

Talking about mental health at Incarnate Word Parish in St. LouisSt. Louis Mental Health Nonprofit Event

“This helped me see that I am not alone and this is a journey.”

“A wake up call to address issues as early as possible. Being proactive matters.”

"This was so helpful to me, even as someone with no children yet. My siblings and I had mental health issues that our parents did not address, and now it’s much harder for us to manage our issues as adults. I want to know how to keep my children from experiencing what I experienced, and this program has helped!"

garegivers talking about mental health at a meeting in St. Louis

Get Involved

By sharing our experiences with openness and vulnerability, and without judgment, we let others know that they are not alone, and we help them find safety and liberation in talking about their own situations. By normalizing these types of conversations within our families and our communities, we combat social stigmas and help foster a new generation of youth who are both supported and supportive regarding mental health issues. By sharing the lessons we have learned, and by bringing in voices of expertise, we provide vital information and help others raise mentally fit kids. We're always seeking to add new voices to the conversation. Join our team, host an event, donate, or just reach out to learn more. There are many ways to get involved.