If you’re a teen and you’re experiencing symptoms of mental illness, there are many ways in which you can get help. If you feel comfortable, you can talk to your friends. You can talk to parents, teachers, and guidance counselors, and you can always search the internet. It’s important to know that you’re not alone and that help is out there. In fact, if anything, it would be a good idea to get help. Facing symptoms of depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder alone is challenging and even risky. If you can get your parents involved and consider the following ways to get help.
Rely on your friends. Most friends want to be supportive. They want to be there for you, and having them there can in fact make you feel better. In fact, one recent study, published by the British Psychological Society in June 2015, revealed that when teens are faced with adversity, friendships can be a tremendous support. However, friends won’t be able to provide professional support.
Find a therapist to work with. Therapy can provide you with coping mechanisms. Being a teenager is stressful. You are undergoing major life changes. Add to this, adolescence is often a stage in which any unresolved trauma resurfaces. On top of all this, as an adolescent, you may not have yet learned appropriate and healthy ways to manage intense feelings such as anxiety, fear, sadness, shame, or anger. A therapist can provide specific ways to manage emotions and stressful circumstances. Psychotherapy can help you manage your moods. A therapist can work with you on how your medication (if you’re taking any) is working along with provide you with specific mood managing techniques where medication might fall short. Also, a therapist can help you identify behaviors, thoughts, and emotions that keep you stuck in the past, and facilitate your journey into the future. Many schools have a psychologist or therapist on campus. At the very least, they have a drug counselor. Because he or she is already in the mental health field, this professional can immediately connect you with someone in the community that might be able be of service.
Utilize online resources. There are a number of organizations that are working towards bettering the lives of adolescents. Some of them include those that provide mental health services, those that are breaking down the stigma of mental illness, and those that are providing a wealth of mental health information for teens who need it. Here are some resources you can start with:
TeenSource is a local resource for California teens.
It Gets Better.Org is a national resource for gay, bisexual, and transgendered teens.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the lives of children, teens, and adults with mental illness.
Call a local or national hotline. These are phone numbers that you can call if you’re in immediate danger. There are local organizations who have what’s called a crisis line, and there are other national organizations that receive calls from across the country. For instance, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – Adolescents (or anyone) in suicidal crisis or emotional distress can call 1-800-273-TALK.
The above list provides a handful of tools for you to use if you need help. Be sure to get your parents or caregivers involved too. In fact, having an entire network of support will best support you through the challenges of mental illness.