If you or someone you love is feeling like you may harm yourself, let your parent, guardian or another trusted adult know immediately. If this is not an option for any reason, contact a resource like Crisis Text Line (text “NAMI” to 741-741) for support and direction. The most important thing is that someone is there for you — whether it is over the phone, by text or chat, or in person. If you do not have access to a mobile device or computer, you need to let a teacher, coach or faith leader in your community know about your crisis situation. If you have already harmed yourself, consider calling 911 for immediate medical assistance.
Although most of us usually turn to friends first when we are struggling with something, it’s important to recognize when a mental health concern is lasting longer than usual or getting worse. If that does happen, do not try to handle it on your own. Let an adult you trust know about it so you can get help.
Deciding When To Ask For Help
The brain controls everything in our body: our breathing, speech, movement, heart rate, body temperature and senses. It also controls the way we think and act. These can all be affected by mental health conditions, which are the result of a complication in the way our brain is working.
So, when do you know it’s time to ask for help?
It’s time to ask for help when our difficulties with our feelings/emotions, thinking or behaviors:
- Are too intense or cause too much distress
- Last more than two weeks
- Interfere with daily life, causing difficulties sleeping, eating, concentrating, working, enjoying things or relating to others
- Lead us to withdraw from relationships
- Are accompanied by other problems like misuse of alcohol or drugs, thoughts of self-harm or aggressive behaviors
- Lead us to dangerous behavior or risky decisions
What does all of this mean for you? It means that, if you notice that you feel differently, and you don’t enjoy things you typically have in the past — like hanging out with friends, playing on your sports team, making good grades in school, eating when you’re hungry — it’s time to talk to an adult that you trust.
You don’t have to experience these feelings alone. There is always someone in your life that can help when you’re struggling, from parents or caregivers to coaches to teachers to people in your faith community. The important thing is that you tell someone how you’re feeling.
Talk to an Adult You Trust
It might be awkward to bring up the topic of mental health with parents or a family member. You may feel embarrassed or ashamed. But remember that there are lots of people who can be a source of support or guidance, including teachers, school counselors, coaches, club leaders or faith leaders. Sometimes, a grandparent or older sibling is easier to talk to than a parent. It might be helpful to ask yourself who you would go to if you were having trouble with a friend.
If you do need to talk to your parent or guardian, take a look at our tips on how to start the conversation.
There are also phone, text and chat resources, like Crisis Text Line and the NAMI HelpLine, to help you to get the support you need.
Ask for Help
Reaching out and letting someone know how you are feeling is the first step to getting the guidance, support and treatment you need to feel better. Your family may want you to talk to your pediatrician or doctor as a starting place. Another great option is to reach out to your school guidance counselor, nurse or social worker. These professionals can provide resources to help you.
Consider Talking to a Therapist
If your mental health concern is affecting your school work, your friendships or your relationships with family, your parent or guardian may want you to see a therapist. Talk therapy is a relationship and an ongoing conversation to help you learn approaches to understanding and managing your feelings, thinking and behavior.
Many people experience difficulties in school; not because the work or responsibility itself is too much, but because they have trouble paying attention, don’t have the mental energy to learn, are too anxious to focus or have patterns of getting into conflicts with other people. If you are experiencing any of these, therapy can help.
Don’t feel like you have to find a therapist on your own – your parent or guardian should be involved. You can send them this information to help them help you.