According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1 in 5 teens or young adults live with a mental health condition. Because teens seek mental health information online, as librarians we should be prepared to refer them to the best information.
Below I’ve posted some sites and services that teens in my community have found helpful. Since working with teens on mental health issues requires sensitivity and professional care, I want to offer a bit of guidance on the best use of this information as well. Here are a few guidelines and tips.
- I am not a mental health professional, and online health information is not a substitute for professional help when it is needed. If teens who are struggling reach out to you, encourage them to consult with their school mental health team or other local mental health professionals and trusted adults or family members. Talking to experts in mental health can also help you understand your role in supporting teens with mental health concerns. In my school, I work with our school counselors to ensure students get the support they need.
- Be clear about your legal and ethical responsibilities in talking with teens about mental health. In your position, you may be a mandated reporter and be legally required to report certain teen mental health issues such as abuse to your supervisor or another official. Your workplace may also have policies to guide you in your support of teens and mental health.
- Consider ways to allow teens to access mental health information passively and privately. Though teens may not come directly to you with mental health concerns, they may use resource lists or links offered online as a starting point for getting further help. Of course, as mentioned above, provide references to local professionals and services so teens can reach out.
Mental Health Resources for Teens
Teens’ Health — Site that offers accounts and advice about a wide range of mental, emotional, relational health topics, including body image, friendship, depression, cutting, anxiety and more.
MentalHealth.gov — Department of Health and Human Services resource that gives information about symptoms that may indicate a teen should reach out for help with mental health.
National Alliance on Mental Illness— Site that provides general mental health information and includes helpful graphics that could be offered as teen handouts or posted in the library as part of a mental health themed display.
Crisis Text Line — Service that allows teens to reach out by text message to receive help.
Ok2Talk — Moderated Tumblr that allows teens to have a safe space to share their personal stories and mental health challenges. It also offers a 24/7 helpline for teens in need.