By Jamie Leary


DENVER (CBS4) – A new handbook, made by teens, promises to help adults better navigate conversations around mental health.

“We knew that there was a need for something to change in terms of adults talking to teens about suicide,” said Nick Ryan.

Robbie Eckert (credit: CBS)

Ryan lost his friend, Robbie Eckert, to suicide last October. The following January, Ryan along with Eckert’s family, launched Robbie’s Hope.

The idea was to create a safe space for teens to talk about mental health, but the teens involved, took it further than Robbie’s family ever imagined.

(credit: CBS)

Teens have created hope groups across Colorado and North Dakota. On Friday, they launched a handbook for parents. It’s filled with suggestions, from teens with parent input, on how to initiate conversations around mental health.

“I hope that parents can learn how to have a conversation without having the child feel like they’re being cornered or having the child feel like they can’t open up because the goal of this is so that parents can really understand the teen without having to force the conversation with their teen,” said Isabella Hunt.

(credit: Eckert family)

While Hunt didn’t know Robbie Eckert personally, she has also lost a friend to suicide unexpectedly. She didn’t hesitate to join Robbie’s Hope when it first launched.

“I think that a lot of kids are really terrified of letting their parents down. I think the idea of being imperfect to them is kind of a huge reason for them to hold back,” said Hunt.

Nick Ryan and Isabella Hunt (credit: CBS)

She saw value in creating a guide for adults. Even her parents admitted they could use it.

“My parents are very loving and they want to help me so bad. They just have no idea how to do it. I feel like I close down a lot of the time because I just feel like they don’t understand what I’m trying to say and my mom jumps to the worst conclusions.”

It’s what Robbie’s mom calls parenting out of fear.

(credit: CBS)

“I don’t want parents to parent out of fear. There’s hope. You can talk to your child and by having a difficult conversation, you can open up communication for more conversations and more of a relationship. I so wish I would’ve had the opportunity to have that conversation with Robbie.”

For more information on Robbie’s Hope and how you can get involved, click here.

Jamie Leary

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