Teens: Who Would You Go To If You Needed Help With Mental Health?

Most of us are shy about admitting that there might be a problem. We want to come across as having it all together.

For instance, a well-liked, popular, and accomplished teen once received a text from her parents while in class last year. The text read that she and her parents needed to talk about her grades. The student and star athlete had received all A’s in her classes except for a D. When the student asked to be excused from her English class to go to the bathroom after receiving the text, she never returned. Instead, she collapsed in the bathroom from an emotional breakdown.

Later, the student did not want to be identified as having a mental illness because of the stigma. “I was very good at putting up a façade,” she admitted after eventually diagnosed with Major Depression and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

For the most part, teens (and adults too) are afraid of admitting that there could be a problem, especially with their mental health. Thinking, feeling, and behaving are essential for participating in society, and to most people, the mind is heavily tied to one’s sense of self. If the mind isn’t working, it’s easy to draw the conclusion that there must be something wrong with me. However, nothing could be further from the truth. There are many therapeutic tools and medication that can ease one’s inner experience which is entirely separate from one’s identity.

Nonetheless, if you’re experiencing thoughts and feelings that are getting in the way of your ability to do well in school or have healthy relationships, then you might want to know what to do. If you’re having these experiences and you’re also shy about admitting that there could be something wrong, you might want to find out how to get the support you need discreetly and privately.

There are a few options to choose from:

  • Talk to a parent. Depending on the relationship you have with your parents, this may or may not be a good idea. The point here is to find someone who you trust and who loves you to help with getting the support you need. So, if you’re not comfortable talking to a parent, perhaps a grandparent, an aunt, even an older brother. Close family members frequently already know the challenges you face, and they may be the perfect ally in getting help.
  • Talk to the mental health professional at your school. 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.
  • Talk to a guidance counselor. If you don’t have a mental health professional at your school, you can talk to your guidance counselor. He or she is not necessarily facing mental health issues but a guidance counselor will know who to contact in order to get you the support you need.
  • Talk to teacher. Like a parent, a teacher sees you almost every day and probably has seen some of the troubles you’re experiencing. If you have a teacher with whom you have a healthy relationship, a teacher might also be able to be helpful.
  • Look for a psychologist in your area. If you’re a teen, you can easily hop on the Internet and Google a psychologist in your area. You might even find one that is within walking distance from your home or school. However, you should know that if you’re under 18, a psychologist won’t be able to provide any services without the consent of your parents – or whoever has legal custody of you.

And in truth, this is the case with any of the above options. You’ll have to have the consent of your parent(s) before getting professional mental health services. However, the point of providing this list is to highlight that there are a number of people you can talk to. You don’t have to struggle alone. Let someone help you, especially if your depression, anxiety, or substance abuse is getting in the way of living your life.

Further Reading