Understanding Mental Health for Teens
Your teenage years are one of the most taxing yet exciting times of your life. From learning new skill sets to academic challenges at school, meeting new people and figuring out your own self-identity—a lot happens in a little amount of time. Furthermore, feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression can hit you in waves as you navigate day-to-day activities. As you progress into young adulthood, it’s vital to take care of your overall mental health.
According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, one in five adolescents has had a serious mental health disorder, such as depression and/or anxiety disorders, at some point in their life. Moreover, less than half of adolescents with psychiatric disorders received any kind of treatment within the last year. If you think you have a mental disorder, it’s vital that you get treatment and support as soon as possible. The earlier you seek and receive treatment, the more effective it can be and help you successfully transition into adulthood. Finding support at school, home and among friends as well as resources are great first steps in treating your mental health.
Below we discuss the various resources available to you and to those you know that currently struggle with teenage disorders.
Taking the First Step
Seeking support for any challenges you’re dealing with takes a lot of courage. Many teens experience emotions they don't know how to manage. There is hope – and there is a way to feel better.
A good place to start would be to complete the free Heads Up Checkup online symptom checker. The results are emailed to you immediately and will remain confidential unless and until you decide to share them with others. Heads Up Checkup only takes about 10 minutes or so to complete. The results will give you feedback about your concerns and may help you make a decision about seeking help.
Talking to Your Parents
Going through a breakup, being bullied in school, or having a tough time academically can be very stressful. You may be surprised to find that your parents are more than willing to help, especially once they realize you are serious about needing support. If you are afraid to talk to your parents in person about your struggles, try sending a text or email – something like, “I've been feeling really anxious and I want to see a counselor,” or “I'm really struggling in school and need help.” You could also create a list of your symptoms, how you are feeling, if you’re having sleeping or concentration problems, etc., to make your case for why you think you need help. The Heads Up Checkup online evaluation can also support your case. The initial conversation may be hard, but the more you talk about it, the easier it gets.
If Your Parents Won't Help
Don't be discouraged. Try talking to a different adult you trust, or get an appointment with your general physician or primary doctor. In some states, you can request that your physician keep your conversations confidential. Many states have laws that allow teens to seek therapy without parental or guardian consent, at least for a few sessions. You can learn more about the California Minor Consent and Confidentiality laws here. There are options available to you, even if your family won't or can't help.
Another great option is to talk to your school guidance counselor about possible referrals — if you just need a trusted adult to talk to about how you’re feeling, consider frequent visits, but if you think you may be dealing with an issue that needs professional attention, they may be able to refer you to people who can help.
If You Are In Immediate Crisis
If you are experiencing an immediate crisis or you have harmed yourself in any way, taken any pills or harmful substances, or do not feel safe, please call 911. If you are afraid you might hurt yourself or are feeling suicidal, contact the National Suicide Prevention Center — someone is there 24/7/365. You may also want to text Crisis Text Line by sending HOME to 741-741. They can offer you immediate support through text messaging and, in some cases, help direct you to resources near you for ongoing support. If you have already hurt yourself, you need to call 911 immediately