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10 Mental Health Resources for High School Students

What’s Covered:


You Are Not Alone


Everyone faces different struggles throughout their lives, but struggling as a teenager can be particularly difficult. Often, students don’t have the coping skills, resources, or support systems that adults in their position might be able to rely on. It’s okay to ask for help. These programs exist because a lot of adolescents need them worldwide. 


Statistics from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the nations’ largest grassroots mental health organization, confirm that mental health concerns are widespread, especially among teenagers and young adults. 


Recent figures provided by NAMI state that 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: stigma. How bizarre 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, or check out the resources below.  


10 Mental Health Resources for Teens


1. The National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI)


This program offers online resources specifically for teens, including a hotline you can call 800-950-NAMI for someone to talk to or, if you are in crisis, text NAMI to 741741.  The teen section of 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 free 50-minute mental health program designed specifically to help middle and high school students recognize warning signs, understand mental health 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. The program seeks to help students 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, which are offered both in-person and virtually.


4. Teen Talk App


This app is 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. It is downloadable  on iOS and Android devices.


5. Mental Health America


Mental Health America is a national nonprofit dedicated to improving mental health, wellbeing, and illness prevention nationwide. Resources on this site include information about conditions, crisis and treatment resources, and information that could help you or a loved one you’re worried about. Best of all, there are ways to get involved with MHA and their mission, through their Young Leaders program or the Youth Policy Accelerator. 


6. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA)


SAMHSA is an agency within the US Department of Health and Human Services, and is on the front line of the mental health and substance use crisis in the USA. On their website, students can find resources to seek help for themselves or loved ones, in the form of several different crisis hotlines, warmlines, and textlines. SAMHSA runs dozens of programs aimed at addressing mental health and substance use struggles in communities nationwide. Students struggling with a wide variety of issues may find useful resources and ways to get involved in the government’s campaign to promote mental health. 


7. The Trevor Project


An organization started to help improve mental health outcomes for LGBTQ+ teens, the Trevor Project is chock-full of research, resources, and information on a variety of LGBTQ+ topics. Their confidential free helpline is available as a phone, text, and computer chat option, and for LGBTQ+ teens that aren’t in crisis, they offer TrevorSpace, an online safe space for LGBTQ+ young people looking to connect and support each other. 


8. The Steve Fund


For young people of color making the transition from high school to college, the Steve Fund is a valuable resource that partners with universities, nonprofits, and mental health experts to promote wellbeing and mental wellness. From providing reports on equity in mental healthcare, to running a dedicated textline for young people of color, to publishing articles and resources for struggling youth of color, the Steve Fund seeks to help promote equity and wellness however they can. 


9. We R Native


For Native youth looking for community resources, support, and connection, We R Native is an excellent place to start. Along with information about Native culture, this website provides articles about physical health, mental health, and dealing with any number of issues that may face Native adolescents. A variety of different text lines are available for everything from crisis support to information about becoming a healer. For youth looking to get involved, the Native Ambassador program could be a great way to bring these resources into your community. 


10. Bamidbar


Founded in 2016 out of a Jewish adventure therapy program, Bamidbar focuses on creating a community that supports Jewish adults and teenagers struggling with mental health concerns. The organization focuses primarily on community education and professional development, as well as offering adventure therapy. 


11. 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-harm, 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. 


If you love to read but this book doesn’t seem like exactly what you need, consider looking around online for other options. Memoirs, self-help books, and even fiction with characters you can relate to can all help you feel understood and seen. 


College Admissions & Mental Health 


You may be questioning if and where you should disclose your mental health challenges and/or experiences in your college application and/or interview. 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 any transformative experiences that have helped you grow and would make you an asset to the college community, and for some students their struggle with mental health is exactly that kind of experience.  


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 some of the resources above.

Short Bio
Elizabeth graduated from Brown University with a degree in American Studies and has used the analytic and writing skills she developed in college in various marketing management positions, freelance writing gigs, and as an author of children's books and magazine articles. She has written for a range of clients serving college-age students, including several universities and publications. And she has supported a son and a daughter through the college and graduate school application and selection process.