March 06, 2015

A screenshot from the Say It Out Loud VideoThree of the young adults featured in the Say It Out Loud video.

If you ask the average teen about mental health, chances are they don’t know much or aren’t really comfortable having a conversation about it. That might not sound like a big deal, but when you consider the fact that 1 in 5 teens lives with a mental health condition and less than half are receiving the supports that they need, this absence of conversation becomes a problem. The fear of discrimination and being viewed as different by their friends and peers is a large barrier to young people receiving mental health services.

But the fewer conversations we have about mental health conditions, the more these negative perceptions persist.

Luckily, more and more celebrities are stepping out to talk about mental health, sparking a national conversation that has not been seen before. Demi Lovato embarked on a Mental Health Listening and Engagement Tour, stopping at NAMI’s National Convention to remind us that you can “live, love and thrive” with a mental health condition.

Brandon Marshall, a star wide receiver for the New York Jets in the NFL, started a foundation, travels to Capitol Hill to advocate for mental health legislation and speaks in videos to raise awareness among mental health conditions in men, where negative perceptions about mental illness can be especially strong. (He also spoke at NAMI’s 2012 National Convention.)

Just last week, Graham Moore stood in front of 36 million people to accept his Oscar by referencing his own suicide attempt and providing a message of hope to those who feel different. And these are just a few celebrities who are using their platform to make a difference in the lives of teens everywhere by making it OK to talk about mental health. And now you can too!

NAMI just launched Say it Out Loud, a toolkit for encouraging discussions about mental health with teens. The toolkit is designed to be used in community and faith-based organizations and encourages teens to speak up if they are experiencing the warning signs of emerging mental health conditions or if they see the signs in a friend.

Say it Out Loud has everything needed to lead an engaging group discussion:

  • A narrated presentation for the group facilitator to learn more about mental health conditions in youth.
  • A discussion guide on how to conduct a successful group discussion with questions to get the conversation started.
  • A short film showing the 10 common warning signs and three youth sharing their experiences.
  • Information about how to connect with NAMI in your community.

These resources, as well as ideas on how to conduct outreach and use the toolkit, can be found on our Say It Out Loud page.

And don’t forget to fill out the feedback form to let us know how your presentation went!

The importance of talking about mental health conditions can’t be denied. Start a conversation today. The first step to getting help to teens is to encourage them to say it out loud.

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NAMI HelpLine is available M-F, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. ET. Call 800-950-6264,
text “helpline” to 62640, or chat online. In a crisis, call or text 988 (24/7).