10 Mental Health Programs for High School Students
You Are Not Alone
We all have our ups and downs. And often the downs are not easy to shake off.
Statistics from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the nations’ largest grassroots mental health organization, confirm that mental health concerns are widespread.
Here are recent figures provided by NAMI: In 2020, one in six adolescents aged 12 – 17 experienced a major depressive episode. One in three young adults aged 18 – 25 experienced a mental illness. One in five adults experienced a mental illness, with one in twenty a serious one.
Stop the Stigma
Unfortunately, only about half of people at any age seek help. Why? The simple answer: perceived stigma. How crazy is it that we feel compelled to hide mental health challenges when they are so prevalent? Fortunately, society is changing, and you can be part of the change. Reach out to trusted adults in your community, school, or family to get support during a tough time or chronic situation and to find local resources. And check out the resources below.
10 Mental Health Programs for Teens
1. The National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI)
This program offers online resources specifically for teens, including a hotline – call 800-950-NAMI or if you are in a crisis, text NAMI to 741741. The website is a great place to start or continue your wellness journey. Read tips on how to talk to friends and family, to explore social media’s impact on your mental health, and more.
2. NAMI Ending the Silence
Many school systems and organizations offer NAMI’s 50-minute mental health program designed specifically to help middle and high school students recognize warning signs, understand conditions, and find resources for help. (NAMI also offers Ending the Silence For Families, a 1-hour presentation for adults.) You can search by zip code for programs near you.
3. Mental Health First Aid for Teens (tMHFA)
This multi-session program was developed in partnership with Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation for students in grades 10 – 12 to help them identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental health and substance use challenges among their friends and peers, including the impact of school violence and bullying. Search by zip code for programs near you.
4. Teen Talk App
A free, anonymous, safe space for teens 13 – 19 to request support from peers and learn from others with similar experiences. Trained teens and their supervisors are available live from 5 pm – 10pm PT. Teens can post on the app 24 hours a day and will receive a response when advisors come online. They can also read what other teens are experiencing and the support they received. Downloadable on iOS and Android devices.
5. Inward Bound Mindfulness Education Free Weekly Drop-In Live Meditations
Thursdays 6:30 ET/3:30 PT guided meditation specifically designed for teens. Register here.
6. Inward Bound Mindfulness Education Summer In-Person Mindfulness Retreats
For Teens & Young Adults, Ages 15 – 19: Six-day summer retreats designed to help young adults reduce stress and cope with school, life, and social demands in a self-empowering way in which teens learn/deepen mindfulness tools, practice meditation, develop community, participate in workshops. Sliding scale fee structure and scholarships available. Find dates/locations.
7. Outward Bound High School Programs
Outward Bound offers several “Classic Journey” experiences for high school students in remote and beautiful wilderness areas where you move through a series of progressively more difficult challenges. Course components are designed to “clear away the chaos and connect you to the land, your team and yourself.” There are several geographic options as well as programs for LGBTQ+ and grieving teens. Learn about the options.
8. Arcos Journey Abroad
Tropical Discovery & Wellness, Costa Rica, summer: Spend 15 days in the Guanacaste region on the Pacific coast (one of the world’s Blue Zones where people live long and health lives) engaged in wellness-focused activities such as yoga, meditative rainforest hiking, mountain biking, and more. Find dates, fees, and details.
Wellness programs and wilderness-based expeditions designed to cultivate self-discovery, hope, and healing for Jewish teens and young adults. Reach out to learn more.
10. Read Don’t Tell Me to Relax!
Read Amazon best-selling title written by a high-achieving teen, Sophie Riegel, who struggled with obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic attacks, self-mutilation, and anxiety in middle and high school. Through therapy, medication, and family support, Sophie found inner strength, hope, and happiness and is now thriving in the class of ’23 at Duke University.
College Admissions & Mental Health Programs
You may be questioning if and where you should disclose your mental health challenges and/or experiences in your college application and/or interview. You will find extensive guidance on this topic in our post How to Address a Mental Health Issue or Disability on Your College Application.
While colleges are prohibited from discriminating against students with mental health issues, remember you do not have to disclose any information that you do not think enhance your candidacy. (This is the case not only for mental health but also for academic, extracurricular, employment, and other experiences.)
At the same time, do not feel stigmatized from addressing mental health challenges. Simply present this information in a positive light if it is an integral part of your story. For example, you can write about transformative experiences that have helped you grow and would make you an asset to the college community.
CollegeVine offers additional posts you may find helpful:
Prioritize Schools that Prioritize Student Mental Health
As you investigate colleges for your list, check for university-led services, policies that lessen pressure (such as pass/fail options and self-scheduled final exams), multiple available advisor-advisee relationships, peer-group organizations for mental health, and overall campus vibe/culture.
Use CollegeVine’s school exploration tool to keep yourself organized and on track.
Thanks to Brett Lubarsky, Director, Jewish Teen Initiative at Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston for identifying many of these resources above.