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Mental Health

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Suicide, depression, anxiety, and AD/HD are serious issues that affect youth. In fact, 1 in 4 teens experience anxiety disorders. There are many underlying factors that could contribute to these feelings and behaviors, in all areas of a young person’s life.

Mental health is a state of wellness that allows youth to deal effectively with daily stress and experience a consistent, positive, productive sense of self and community. Mental health is not just the absence of mental illness, but the presence of mental wellness. Having a mental disorder does not mean a teen isn’t mentally healthy. Mental illness can affect anyone, and is not the result of a personal deficiency, character trait, or poor upbringing. Mental illness is treatable, and youth with mental illnesses are not “lost causes”.

  • Youth who experience depressive episodes are more likely to also abuse substances. 18% of youth experience substance use problems and depression simultaneously. Youth may use substances to feel better or relieve pain and bad feelings, but alcohol and drugs can make depressive symptoms worse. Youthworkers and other adults can help youth identify healthier ways of coping with their feelings.
  • Teens who harm dating partners largely believe that violence is acceptable. Youth are more likely to commit relationship violence if they have peers who perpetrate violence in their relationships. 1 in 3 seventh graders has been emotionally abused by a boyfriend or girlfriend. Psychological, or emotional abuse can include threatening, isolating the victim from family and friends, telling the victim’s secrets, and asserting control and possessiveness. Teens may define intimate relationships in different ways. Regardless of the nature of the dating relationship, violence is a serious concern, and no one deserves to be abused.
  • Survivors of sexual violence may experience self-blame, isolation, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, symptoms of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and other mental health issues. Family members and friends of survivors may also experience these consequences. Half of youth who experience sexual violence within dating relationships attempt suicide, and teens who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB) are more than twice as likely to attempt suicide as their peers. Youthworkers can be sources of support for youth who disclose sexual violence. Youth-serving organizations can promote respect as well as eliminate language and behaviors that support sexual violence and homophobia.
  • 1 in 7 teens experience major depression or bipolar disorder. Some symptoms of depression may include social withdrawal and appetite changes, whereas other signs are more aggressive behaviors like defiance, anger, and irritability. The stigma around seeking mental health services, as well as barriers in insurance coverage may prevent youth from accessing services. Youth of color are more likely to be referred to the juvenile justice system than mental health treatment, leaving many potential health concerns untreated. Youthworkers must be informed about the mental health resources available to youth and advocate for young people in their organizations.

Download the BE SAFE Mental Health Fact Sheet (PDF) to learn more.


Nineline 800.999.999
Call if a youth is facing issues around depression, suicidal thoughts, community violence or has general issues with being involved in unhealthy relationships. Offers information and referrals for other resources as well.

Samariteens | 24 Hour Teen Helpline 800.252.8336
From 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays, and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends, this service is staffed by volunteers between the ages of 15 and 18; after hours, calls are answered by adult volunteers.


  • Riverside Community Care
    An array of child and family programs with the flexibility necessary to meet each child or adolescent’s individual needs.
  • Children's Hospital Adolescent Clinic
    Interdisciplinary team of specially-trained physicians, nurse practitioners, nutritionists, and mental health professionals dedicated to caring for every teen as patient and as a person.
  • Children's Charter Trauma Clinic
    Children's Charter is an out-patient clinic for victims of trauma and their families.  Services include trauma evaluations, risk assessments, psychological testing and treatment, expressive arts and play therapy, individual, family, and group counseling.
  • The Trauma Center 
    Serves children and adults impacted by the continuum of trauma exposure, from acute incidents such as accidents and assaults to chronic experiences of child abuse, neglect and traumatic loss. Services include screening and referral, brief and long-term therapy for adults and children, couples, and family counseling.

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