Mental Health Awareness Month Part 2: Next Steps

In my previous blog post, I listed and described some common red flags that may indicate that a teen or adolescent you know may be struggling with mental illness. In this post, I want to empower you in knowing what to do next if you see one or more of these warning signs and believe a teen/adolescent you care about is struggling with mental illness.

  1. Schedule a doctor's appointment. Primary care physicians often have resources for mental health treatment and can be a good starting point. Also, if the person is experiencing physical aches/pains, it is important to make sure that there is no underlying medical cause.
  2. Talk to them about what you are seeing. It can be difficult for teens to open up if they are struggling mentally and/or emotionally, sometimes taking the initiative in starting this conversation tells them that it is okay to talk about it. Listen, allowing them to explain what is going on first, and then ask how you can support them.
  3. Seek out treatment. Especially if the mental/emotional symptoms are manifesting as suicidal and/or homicidal thoughts and/or causing significant impairment in the person's life (i.e. failing school, not leaving the house, getting into legal trouble) it is imperative that the person gets linked up with treatment as soon as possible. Your primary care doctor, school guidance counselor, pastor/religious leader are good places to start in seeking out a trusted professional. Also online databases such as psychology today can be helpful in finding a therapist near you (you can see my profile at    

*If you or someone you know needs immediate help call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8355

Mental Illness affects 1 in 5 US teens ages 13-18, but it is treatable. Being a mental health professional, I have been fortunate to witness recovery from mental illness.

I hope this 2-part blog post series has empowered you to be able to spot some of the signs that someone you know may be struggling with mental illness and has provided you some ways that you can come along side and support that person. For more information on how you can support someone struggling with mental illness and more information on mental illness visit NAMI's (National Alliance on Mental Illness) website

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