Kyle Richards, Jenna Dewan Talk Importance of Mental Health Struggle Openness as Moms (Exclusive)

"I think that talking about it is really one of the main ways to do it. Bring attention to this and you don't have to struggle in silence," Dewan told PEOPLE

 Paul Archuleta/Getty Images
Paul Archuleta/Getty Images

Kyle Richards and Jenna Dewan are getting candid about mental health and motherhood.

The actresses spoke to PEOPLE about the importance of being open about mental health struggles as mothers at the National Alliance of Mental Illness Westside Los Angeles's annual Mental Health Gala at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood Friday.

Richards, 54, told PEOPLE: "I've been talking about this for years, and I've suffered from anxiety since I was like 12 years old. I think I had my first panic attack. So I've always talked very openly about that because to me, laughing and joking about it actually helps me, makes me feel better. So it's been a very open conversation anyway."

Matt Baron/BEI/Shutterstock Kyle Richards and her four daughters
Matt Baron/BEI/Shutterstock Kyle Richards and her four daughters

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"And I've always said to my girls, if you're ever struggling, or you're not handling something as well as you think you could be, and you don't feel to talk to your dad or to me, talk to a therapist type," she continued.

The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star added: "So it's very pro therapy and in our home, and I'm grateful that my girls are very strong and together. But it's something, you know, really have to stay on top of, actually."

"Everything with stigma is a big thing," Dewan, 42, explained to PEOPLE: "I have a lot of mental health issues in my family and our history. And so I've seen family members of mine struggle. I've seen a lot of shame around it. I've seen a lot of not wanting to comport or accept the help that is needed. And so that needs to change."

Jenna Dewan
Jenna Dewan

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"We need to discuss it more. It needs to be something that is openly okay to discuss, to get help for," the Step Up star added. "And I think that talking about it is really one of the main ways to do it. Bring attention to this, and you don't have to struggle in silence."

"And as a mother, you want to do everything you can to keep that communication open between your children and yourself," she continued. "And so I do think sometimes in our history, we tiptoe around these things. Honestly, this is life. This is it. So we have to erase that."

Richards shares daughters Alexia Simone, 26, Sophia Kylie, 23, and Portia, 15, with husband Mauricio Umansky. She is also mom to 34-year-old daughter Farrah Brittany Aldjufrie, whom she shares with ex-husband Guraish Aldjufrie.

Dewan shares son Callum, 3, with husband Steve Kazee, in addition to co-parenting daughter Everly, 9, with ex-husband Channing Tatum.

If you or someone you know needs mental health help, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.

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Read the original article on People.