Say It Out Loud: Speaking with Teens about Mental Health

One in five teens lives with a mental health condition and yet more than half are not getting the help they need. Stigma remains a barrier to teens seeking help.

Raising awareness by sharing information and starting conversations about mental health is key in reducing stigma and increasing the likelihood that teens will seek mental health care when they need it. NAMI created Say it Out Loud to get teens talking about mental health.

Say it Out Loud gives adults the tools they need to hold conversations about mental health with teens. The toolkit includes:

To bring Say it Out Loud! to your community, download the toolkit above or email namioncampus@nami.org to request it on a USB drive.

Where to Use the Say it Out Loud Toolkit

Now that you've seen what's in the toolkit, here are some ways to use it. Make as many copies of the toolkit as you'd like to distribute throughout your community!

  1. Connect with faith communities. Make copies of the toolkit and reach out to churches, synagogues, mosques and other faith communities in your area. Youth group leaders might welcome the chance to speak to teens about mental health.
  2. Partner with Community Organizations. Reach out to Girl and Boy Scout Troops, Big Brothers Big Sisters offices, Boys and Girls Clubs, Volunteers of America or your local YMCA. They are always looking for new activities and will appreciate your help!
  3. Use Social Media. Use your organization’s Twitter (#SayitOutLoud) and Facebook to reach teens in your community to join the discussion. Use the sample posts we’ve developed and provide pizza or snacks as an incentive. Ask local media to promote it through their social media channels too.
  4. Ask for help with promotion. After you have partnered to deliver successful presentations in your community, ask those organizations to promote the project as well. Write a blog for their bulletin, website or listserv about the presentation and suggest that they share it on their social media accounts.
  5. Use this opportunity to connect with AKA. NAMI has formed a partnership with Alpha Kappa Alpha, an African American sorority focused on community service. Find the local AKA office in your community and work together to have discussions with teens in their networks.
  6. Work with high school counselors. Connect with high school counselors to identify clubs and sports teams that will have you facilitate a discussion with their students. Try to meet students where they are to focus on their mental health.
  7. Use NAMI on Campus clubs. NAMI on Campus clubs are always looking for ways to give back to their communities. Reach out to your local NAMI on Campus club and ask them to help facilitate these discussions with teens in your area. Youth respond well to their peers.
  8. Add Say it Out Loud to another activity. Use this project as the center piece of your activity for National Children's Mental Health Awareness Week the first week of May or Mental Illness Awareness Week the first week of October. If you are already hosting an activity with teens, such as a NAMIWalk or movie night, add this to the agenda.

These ideas are just a few places where you can engage your community in mental health conversations.  There are so many ways to connect with every community so find the places that work where you are. There’s never a wrong time to say it out loud!

Tell Us About Your Event

We value your feedback about how your Say it Out Loud discussion went! Please complete this short survey to share your event and other information we can provide to educate teens about mental health. Your feedback will help shape future efforts!