To Disclose or Not to Disclose?

Another uncomfortable aspect of struggling with a mental health issue is determining whether or not to disclose details, and with whom to share. There are no right or wrong approaches, but taking time to consider the benefits and costs that might come with sharing can help students feel more confident about making these decisions.

A student facing a mental health concern may be open to discussing his/her problem with a teacher, but may be far less open to disclosing the problem to a parent. Encourage the student to explore the pros and cons of discussing the situation with his/her parent, and how things might change if he/she made some different decisions. In addition to using the exercise below to help a student who may be struggling about whether or not to share his/her situation with others, it may be helpful to clarify again where you as a teacher stand regarding confidentiality. You may find these statements helpful:

  • “Is it okay if I talk to you about confidentiality?
  • I won’t share what you tell me unless it has to do with hurting yourself or someone else. In those cases, I would talk with you about who I would need to talk to and exactly what I would tell them. What do you think of that?”


thinking about sharing