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Adolescent Development Toolkit

Mental Health Help Lines

988: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Launched in July 2022, 988 is the number to call to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a network of over 200 locally operated crisis centers.

The Trevor Project
This helpline is especially for LGBTQ young people. Chat, call, or text a crisis counselor 24/7.

Love Is Respect
Call, chat, or text about relationship issues and abuse.

NY Project Hope
An emotional support help line and resources dedicated to helping individuals cope with changes brought on by COVID-19. Call or text to connect with a crisis counselor.

Additional Resource Collections

Mental Health Technology Transfer Center Network (MHTTC): Products & Resources Catalog
A keyword search for "Adolescents/Youth" brings you to a library of relevant guides, presentations, and newsletters. Note that School Health is a particular focus. MHTTC and SAMHSA.

In My Mind Conference: Mental Health Resource List
The In My Mind Conference is about, for, and by LGBTQ+ peoples of color. The mental health resource list includes organizations that provide services to teens. In My Mind.

Resources for Helping Youth Cope after a Mass Shooting
In response to 2022 mass shootings, the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs compiled a list of resources to help youth, families, educators, and community members cope with and talk about community trauma, as well as provide psychological first aid.

NY Project Hope
An emotional support help line and resources dedicated to helping individuals cope with changes brought on by COVID-19. Call or text to connect with a crisis counselor.

Toolkit: Youth Mental Health

On this page, we direct youth-serving organizations to resources that will help them:
  • 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
Youth work professionals seeking ways to support adolescent resilience may also be interested in the Social and Emotional Learning Toolkit.

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.

Toolkit: Behavioral Health

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.

Report: Student Mental Health

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)

Slides: Self-Injury Webinar

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.

Report: Black Youth Suicide

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)

Slides: Adolescent Stress

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.

Community Trauma Tip Sheet

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 Manual and Resources

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.

PFA Self-Paced Course

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.

SEL Toolkit

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.

Trauma-Informed SEL Toolkit

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.

Resource List: Youth Websites

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