Feeling very sad or withdrawn for more than two weeks
Seriously trying to harm or kill oneself or making plans to do so
Severe out-of-control, risk-taking behaviors
Sudden, overwhelming fear for no reason
Not eating, throwing up or using laxatives to lose weight; significant weight loss or weight gain
Seeing, hearing or believing things that are not real
Repeatedly using drugs or alcohol
Drastic changes in mood, behavior, personality or sleeping habits
Extreme difficulty in concentrating or staying still
Intense worries or fears that get in the way of daily activities
Talking About It
1 in 5 youth and young adults live with a mental health condition, and there is help and hope.
Opening up about mental health is not easy, but talking to someone is the way to get help. You can start by talking to family members, friends, teachers, professors, counselors, coaches, faith leaders, doctors and nurses.
Tips on what you can say if you are struggling with your mental health:
I haven’t felt right lately and I don’t know what to do. Can I talk to you about it?
I’m worried about stuff that’s going on right now; do you have time to talk?
I’m having a really hard time lately; will you go with me to see someone?
Tips on what you can say to a trusted adult if a sibling, friend or classmate appears to be struggling with mental health:
I’m worried about [name] and I don’t know what to do. Can I talk to you about it?
I noticed that [name] seems to be having a really hard time lately. Can I talk to you about it?
Learn about mental health stigma and what we can all do to end it
Seeking Help: Tips for Youth
Contact your primary care doctor, to rule out other physical health conditions.
Be honest about what you’re feeling and be clear about what you want.
Ask for help finding a therapist or mental health specialist that works for you.
Keep in mind that it can take a while to get an appointment with a specialist. If you need to see a specialist right away, speak up to get an appointment sooner.
If the first mental health specialist you see isn’t a good fit, keep looking for one who works for you.
Be prepared to ask questions. For instance: If I have thoughts that scare me what should I do? How often should we meet? What can I do between appointments if I need help? Do I have to take medication? What does it help with? What are the side effects? How long will it take for me to feel better, a few days, weeks or months?
Guide for Parents
Check our guide for when a child has a mental health condition.
Kids going back to school? Watch our Town Hall with the California Department of Education on Supporting Youth Mental Health In the Transition Back to the Classroom
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Crisis Text Line: Text NAMI to 741-741 to connect with a trained crisis counselor to receive free, 24/7 crisis support via text message.
NAMI Helpline: Call 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) M–F, 7 am to 3 pm PT for free mental health info, referrals and support. More from NAMI.
NAMI on Campus: High School
Find out about NAMI California’s NAMI on Campus: High School program
NAMI’s Knowledge Centers has helpful information on these questions:
- Can I get mental health help even though I’m only a minor?
- How can I get help/support for an eating disorder?
- How can I get help/support for self-harm?
- How do I create a long-term care plan for my loved one who is living with a serious mental illness?
- I believe my child is showing signs of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD). How can I find help?
- I’m having suicidal thoughts and need help.
- My loved one is displaying symptoms of early serious mental illness – where do I begin to find help?
- My loved one is having suicidal thoughts. What can I do?
- My teenager is acting differently. Could it be the beginning of mental illness?