Approximately one out of five adolescents has a diagnosable mental health disorder, and nearly one third shows symptoms of depression. Warning signs aren’t always obvious, but more common symptoms include persistent irritability, anger, or social withdrawal, as well as major changes in appetite or sleep. Mental health disorders can disrupt school performance, harm relationships, and lead to suicide (the second leading cause of death among adolescents). Unfortunately, an ongoing stigma regarding mental health disorders inhibits some adolescents and their families from seeking help. Effective treatments for mental health disorders, especially if they begin soon after symptoms appear, can help reduce its impact on an adolescent’s life.
Check out these resources for adolescent mental health services:
- SAMHSA provides the Mental Health Services Locator, an online, map-based program visitors can use to find facilities in their vicinity. Local organizations may be particularly helpful for addressing the mental health needs of adolescents in a specific community.
- Adolescents (or anyone) in suicidal crisis or emotional distress can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK. Calls made to this 24-hour hotline are routed to the caller’s nearest crisis center.
- YouMatter is a National Suicide Prevention Lifeline site for young adults, complete with a blog where visitors can share problems and receive support.
Learn more about adolescent mental health changes and specific mental health disorders:
- Check out OAH’s library of federal adolescent health resources on mental health in general, and those specific to mental health disorders.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has information about mental health changes in early adolescence and middle or older adolescence, as well as a number of resources on suicide prevention. Feelin' Frazzled...? from the CDC provides tips and tools to help teens deal with stress and high pressure situations.
- The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) provides a number of resources, including fact sheets on brain development and mental health disorders in adolescence, information on the science of adolescent brain development, and frequently asked questions on the treatment of children with mental illness. It also has a page that explains teen depression, including ways to recognize depression symptoms, ways to address depression, and who to talk to when feeling depressed.
- SAMHSA supports the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, which helps organizations and individuals to develop suicide prevention programs, interventions, and policies. This toolkit from SAMHSA lays out risk factors, warning signs, and data to specifically help high school teachers, counselors, and administrators prevent suicide.
- GirlsHealth.gov, from the Office on Women’s Health, offers tip sheets about adolescents and their feelings, including “How to know if your ‘blues’ are depression.”
Mental Health America. (2013). Depression in Teens. Retrieved February 16, 2016, from http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/depression-teens