- Understand adolescent mental health and illness
- Understand adolescent mental health inequities
- Respond to mental health crises
- Put prevention strategies in place
- Direct young people to online resources and help lines
Overviews: Understanding Mental Health and Mental Illness in Adolescence
Protecting Youth Mental Health: The U.S. Surgeon General's Advisory
In 2021, Dr. Vivek Murthy issued a new Surgeon General's Advisory to highlight the urgent need to address the nation's youth mental health crisis. Underscoring the need for an ecological approach, the advisory provides recommendations that individuals, families, community organizations, technology companies, governments, and others can take to improve the mental health of children, adolescents, and young adults.
U.S. Surgeon General's Advisory
Behavioral Health Toolkit for Afterschool Programs
The behavioral health toolkit is primarily for administrators, educators, providers, and families who participate in afterschool programs. Topics include an overview of emotions and behaviors, definitions of mental disorders, signs and symptoms of crisis, and resources for managing challenging behaviors.
Youth Risk Behavior Survey: Data Summary & Trends Report, 2009-2019
This report on the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) provides surveillance data on health behaviors and experiences among high school students in the U.S. related to four priority areas, including mental health and suicide. A special section describes the data relating to sexual minority youth. CDC.
The Cutting Edge: Understanding and Addressing Non-Suicidal Self-Injury in Youth
Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) is a common and yet under-recognized phenomenon. Much has been learned in the past fifteen years about what NSSI is, why it "works," and its most common recovery trajectory. In this 2021 presentation, Janis Whitlock reviews the characteristics of NSSI, highlighting several factors that are influential in recovery.
Webinar Recording: Self-Injury Webinar (59 minutes)
Youth and Mental Health Inequities
LGBTQ Youth and Mental Health
See also "Youth Risk Behavior Survey: Data Summary & Trends Report" above.
The Trevor Project 2022 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health
This report provides critical insights into some of the unique suicide risk factors faced by diverse LGBTQ youth, top barriers to mental health care, and the negative impacts of COVID-19 and relentless anti-transgender legislation. It also highlights several ways in which we can all support the LGBTQ young people in our lives. The Trevor Project.
Report: LGBTQ Youth Mental Health
Gender-affirming Care: What It Is and Why It's Necessary
This article provides background on the basic needs of transgender and nonbinary children and clarifies what gender-affirming care is and is not. Learning for Justice.
Article: Gender-affirming Care
Bisexual Youth Experience
Using national data from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, this research brief focuses on understanding mental health and victimization associated with bisexual youth. The Trevor Project.
Report: Bisexual Youth Mental Health
Mental Health in Black, Indigenous, and Other Youth of Color
Mental Health of Black Girls
This fact sheet briefly discusses the impact of racism and sexism, including the over-representation of Black girls in the juvenile justice system, on Black girls' mental health. It also provides examples of organizations that foster healing and justice. National Black Women's Justice Institute.
Fact Sheet: Mental Health of Black Girls
Ring the Alarm: The Crisis of Black Youth Suicide in America
This 2020 report presents research on increasing rates of suicide among Black children and adolescents. It also provides recommendations and resources. Congressional Black Caucus.
Saving Young Black Lives: Reversing Suicide Trends
This eight-part podcast series explores the crisis of Black youth suicide. Survivors, family members, researchers, and behavioral health professionals discuss their experiences, research, policies, and practices and offer recommendations to address this issue. Central East Mental Health Technology Transfer Center Network.
Podcast Series: Saving Young Black Lives
Youth-Centered Strategies for Hope, Healing and Health
This 2022 report sets forth actionable solutions that policymakers at the federal, state, and local levels can implement to build a culturally-responsive and gender-affirming mental health care system for all youth, especially youth of color. The Children's Partnership and National Black Women's Justice Institute.
Report: BIPOC Youth Policy Recommendations
Engaging Native American Youth at Risk of Suicide
The oppression of American Indians and Alaska Natives and the resulting intergenerational trauma and adverse childhood experiences have contributed to disproportionately high rates of depression, other mental illness, and suicide among Tribal youth. Here, the Child Welfare Information Gateway links to resources on mental health among Native American youth. Children's Bureau, HHS.
Resource Collection: Indigenous Youth Mental Health
Culturally-Responsive Approaches to Serve Latin American Children who Experience Traumatic Separation
This 2020 webinar explores trauma-informed, culturally-responsive strategies for serving separated children who have migrated to the U.S. from countries in Latin America. Registration required. National Child Traumatic Stress Network.
Webinar: Latinx Children and Traumatic Separation
The Traumatic Impact of Racism and Discrimination on Young People and How to Talk About It
This chapter of Reaching Teens describes the pervasive negative effects of racism on youth development, as well as on their health and well-being, and the toll it exacts on families and communities who have been racially marginalized. American Academy of Pediatrics.
Book Chapter: Racism and Young People's Well-Being
Youth Mental Health Stressors: Response and Prevention
Responding to Mental Health Crises
See help lines in sidebar.
Mental Health First Aid for Youth
Mental Health First Aid is an international education program demonstrated to be effective in teaching adults how to recognize and respond to signs and symptoms of mental health and substance use challenges. Mental Health First Aid for Youth is designed to teach family members, caregivers, and adults who work with young people how to help an adolescent (age 12-18) who is experiencing a mental health challenge or crisis. National Council for Mental Wellbeing.
Course Information and Locator
You Can Help a Student: Recognizing When Adolescent Students Are Struggling and How to Help Them
In this 2021 webinar, Diana Cusumano describes the landscape of youth mental health nationally. She identifies signs of distress in youth and discusses how to respond particularly as these signs relate to potential suicide. ACT for Youth.
Webinar Recording: You Can Help a Student (53 minutes)
Slides: You Can Help a Student
Self-Injury & Recovery Resources
This website houses resources on non-suicidal self-injury for a range of audiences. Cornell University.
Research and Resources on Self-Injury and Recovery
Fair Weather Ahead: Coping with Adolescent Stress
In this 2017 webinar, Janis Whitlock distinguishes between normal stress and chronic distress in the context of adolescent development. She also discusses ways we might respond. ACT for Youth.
Webinar Recording: Adolescent Stress (52 minutes)
Responding to Community Trauma
Helping Youth After Community Trauma: Tips for Educators
Available in English, Spanish, and Chinese, this tip sheet describes how traumatic events, such as a natural disaster, school violence, or the traumatic death of a peer or educator, can affect students' learning, behavior, and relationships. It also suggests helpful educator/adult responses. NCTSN.
Psychological First Aid (PFA)
This PFA Field Operations Guide and related resources give guidance on helping survivors in the immediate aftermath of a traumatic event, crisis, or disaster. National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN).
PFA Online Course
This course was designed as an overview to the concepts and applications of psychological first aid as it applies to assisting survivors impacted by a disaster or emergency event, particularly in the field during a response. This training may also be useful to other individuals when dealing with a personal crisis in their family, community, or workplace.
Prevention: Working with Adolescents
Working with Adolescents: Practice Tips and Resource Guide
This technical assistance tool offers resources to child welfare, substance use treatment providers, health care, and other community agencies serving adolescents at risk of misusing or abusing substances. National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare (NCSACW).
NCSACW Practice Tips and Resource Guide
Prevention: Curricula and Activities
Social and Emotional Learning Toolkit
Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is a student-centered approach that emphasizes building on students' strengths; developing skills through hands-on, experiential learning; giving young people voice in the learning process; and supporting youth through positive relationships with adults over an extended period of time. The SEL Toolkit offers web-based resources to help youth work professionals provide opportunities for social and emotional learning. Resources include manuals, activities, fact sheets, videos, and websites.
Mind Matters: Overcoming Adversity and Building Resilience
Mind Matters' lessons teach people aged 12 and up to heal from traumatic and other negative experiences with innovative methods based on current research and neuroscience. These skills give individuals a way to take charge of their emotions and improve their states of mind. Participants learn to address their physical, relational, and mental health needs. Dibble Institute.
Curriculum: Overcoming Adversity
Mindfulness-Based Programs for Stress and Health
Mindfulness-Based Programs (MBPs) can have wide-ranging health benefits. In this 2022 presentation, Joshua Felver describes the relationship between stress, MBPs, and health in young people. Viewers gain a better understanding of the relationship between stress and mindfulness, increase their familiarity with core components of MBPs for adolescent health, and participate in a brief experiential activity with one evidence-based program.
Webinar Recording: Mindfulness-Based Programs (84 minutes)
Slides: Mindfulness-Based Programs
Prevention: Trauma-Informed Youth Work
Creating Inclusive Program Environments for Youth with Different Abilities
Young people with learning disabilities, ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, or trauma do not always disclose these conditions in program settings. Fortunately, even when facilitators lack this personal information about participants, there are ways to make programs more inclusive. This curriculum aims to provide youth work professionals with information, practices, and activities that will help them promote inclusion and engagement for all young people. ACT for Youth.
Curriculum: Creating Inclusive Program Environments
Trauma-Informed SEL Toolkit
Trauma-informed SEL is an approach to fostering youths' social-emotional development with practices that support all students but are particularly responsive to the needs of children and youth who have experienced trauma. This toolkit for educators includes a multimedia presentation, handout, and facilitator's guide featuring research-based strategies. Transforming Education.
Implementing a Trauma-Informed Approach for Youth across Service Sectors
This brief discusses the concept and prevalence of trauma; techniques for coping with trauma at an individual and systems level; the core principles for building a framework for understanding trauma; and implementation of elements essential for a trauma-informed system. Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs.
Brief: Trauma-Informed Approach
For Youth: Mental Health Resources
NY Project Hope: Coping with COVID: Teens & COVID
This site was developed to help teens cope with changes brought on by the pandemic. It offers youth ideas for ways to relieve stress and solve problems as well as a mental health crisis line. New York Office of Mental Health.
Mental Health Resources for Teens
Me & My Emotions
Me & My Emotions is an online resource that teens can use to build resilience. With engaging graphics and bite-sized lessons, Me & My Emotions invites teens to slow down, check in with themselves, and develop social and emotional skills. Developed in response to the toxic stress youth have endured during the pandemic, this resource is available at no cost. Dibble Institute.
Resilience Skill-Building Lessons for Teens
TrevorSpace is an affirming, online community for LGBTQ young people between the ages of 13-24 years old. With over 400,000 members across the globe, you can explore your identity, get advice, find support, and make friends in a moderated community intentionally designed for you. The Trevor Project.
Online Discussion Forums, Clubs, Conversations for LGBTQ Youth Community
Youth-Friendly Mental Health Online Resources
This resource list links to mental health websites for teens and young adults. Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine.