Teen Mental Health Guide:
How to Help Yourself & Your Friends
If you or a friend is experiencing any of the warning signs in the video below, please talk to an adult for guidance and help on seeking treatment. The earlier you or a friend seeks treatment, the much better the outcomes. Treatment for mental health conditions are very effective, and recovery is possible!
If you are experiencing signs of a mental health condition, click here for a checklist on how you and your family can take charge of your treatment. You can also visit our toolbox page for more information and resources.
Friends Can Make A Difference
Don’t underestimate the power of a good friend in helping someone get the help they need. Click here or on the image to download this guide to helping others along the road to living well with a mental health condition.
What are some common warning signs?
- Feeling sad or withdrawn for more than two weeks
- Severe out-of-control, risk-taking behaviors
- Sudden overwhelming fear for no reason
- Severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships
- Drastic changes in behavior, personality, or sleeping habits
- Difficulty concentrating or staying still
- Intense worries or fears
- Trying to harm or kill oneself or making plans to do so
- Not eating, throwing up, or using laxatives to lose weight
- Repeated use of alcohol or drugs
If you recognize any of these warning signs in a friend for more than 2 weeks and you are concerned, talk a trusted adult such as a parent, counselor, teacher coach or youth leader.
How do I talk to my friend?
Use “I” (instead of “you”) comments to get the conversation started:
- I’ve noticed you’re [sleeping more, eating less, etc] Is everything okay?
- I’ve noticed you haven’t been acting like yourself lately, is something going on?
- It makes me afraid to hear you talking like this. Let’s talk to someone about this.
If your nervous about talking to a friend and not sure what to say, seek the advice and guidance of your school counselor, a teacher, counselor or parent.
What are things I shouldn’t say?
- “We all go through tough times like these. You’ll be fine”
- “It’s all in your head. Just snap out of it”
- Don’t ask in a way that indicates you want “No” for an answer
- “You’re not thinking about suicide, are you?”
- “You haven’t been throwing up to lose weight, have you?”
Is my friend thinking about suicide?
If you are worried that your friend is thinking about suicide, don’t be afraid to ask them these important questions:
- Are you thinking about suicide?
- Do you have a plan? Do you know how you would do it?
- When was the last time you thought about suicide?
If your friend answers YES to any of these questions or if you think they are at risk of suicide, you HAVE to talk to an adult you trust IMMEDIATELY or call the National Suicide Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or 911.
How do I get help?
Here are some people who can help you get support and encourage your friend to get help and talk to a trusted adult as well:
- Friends and family
- School teachers or counselors
- Faith-based leaders
How can I be a good friend?
- Include your friend in your plans & keep inviting them!
- Help your friend stay positive
- Don’t treat him or her differently
- Stand up for your friend
- Check-in regularly, listen and offer support
- Learn more about mental health conditions
- Visit our toolbox page to learn about the resources, and let your friend know about the resources available.