What does ‘menty b’ mean? Teens use the divisive viral phrase to discuss their mental health

Teenage slang can be hard to decode, but experts say to listen close to this new phrase

Teenager sitting on the sofa texting
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The slang term ‘menty b’ has gone viral, with teenagers using it to open up about their mental health - but do experts think the term is actually useful? Here's what they have to say.

Deciphering teenage slang may not be the hardest aspect of raising a teenager, but learning the shortened terms and keeping up with changing slang is a huge part of learning how to better communicate with teens and really understand what they're saying. 

Most of the words are a bit of fun, but experts are saying that the latest viral term 'menty b' has a lot deeper of a meaning. It's a shortened version of the term 'mental breakdown,' as in, "I'm having a menty b." It can be used to describe any sort of overwhelming feeling, from negative feelings like extreme worry or stress, to more positive ones like an overriding excitement that can't be contained. 

Adolescent psychologist and mum of a teen herself, Cameron Caswell, PhD, believes the light-hearted term could go a long way in helping teens open up about their emotions. 

“While these phrases can be a way for teens to express feelings of overwhelm and distress, they don't necessarily indicate a severe mental health crisis,” she told Parents. What the viral term does do is help teens see their emotions as more normal, less stigmatised, and this can help them open up to friends or parents much easier. 

However, the term being so prevalently used to describe relatively normal stresses and worries means that those who are really struggling with their mental health may be overlooked when using the term. So, what should parents do if their teen starts talking about having a menty b?

Dr. Caswell says it's all about communication and shared five tips for handling a conversation about mental health; 

1. Stay calm and listen. “Parental overreactions to expressed distress or misinterpretations of silence as indicative of struggle can further strain communication,” she explains.

2. Offer support, not advice. Teens don't always want advice from their parent, they simply need to know that they have someone to rely on as they learn how to be independent and resilient on their own. 

3. Build connection through acceptance. Not denying your child of their emotions, or not belittling them, will go a long way in helping them feel heard. 

4. Normalise emotions and teach coping skills. Similarly to number two, the expert believes teens need to learn how to handle extreme emotions on their own, but it is a parent's initiative to help them learn how to do this. 

5. Show you're a safe space. If your teen shuts you down when you try to talk to them, respect that boundary and encourage them to come to you when they're ready to speak. 

If you struggle to connect with your teenager, we've shared 25 brilliant ways to open up a conversation with them. Plus, here are the five most important things you should talk to your teen about before they start dating, and what to do if your teenager is drawn to taking risks.

News writer

Charlie Elizabeth Culverhouse is a news writer for Goodtoknow, specialising in family content. She began her freelance journalism career after graduating from Nottingham Trent University with an MA in Magazine Journalism, receiving an NCTJ diploma, and earning a First Class BA (Hons) in Journalism at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute. She has also worked with BBC Good Food and The Independent.