A Guide to Teenage Mental Health

Woman laying on a table

Being a teenager’s rough. You’ve gotta juggle homework, extracurricular activities, friends, dating…and not to mention, you’re probably pretty busy maintaining your image on Instagram. It’s totally normal to feel stressed out, angsty, or sad sometimes. But it’s important to be able to check in and ask yourself — is this run of the mill teenage stress, or is it something else?

You’re Not Alone

Having some sort of mental health condition as a teen is more common than you think. You might feel like you’re the only one in your school going through what you’re going through, but I promise, you’re not! Twenty percent of teens ages 13-18 have a mental health condition. If you’re not great with percentages (which, I’m not) let me break it down this way. This means 1 in 5 teens has a mental health condition. So if your math class has 20 kids in it, the odds are that 4 of them are battling a mental health condition, diagnosed or not.

When facing mental health struggles, it can be hard to find someone who you feel really understands you. Chances are, the other kids who are struggling aren’t talking about it because they’re scared of being judged. Unfortunately, there’s such a stigma attached to mental illness, in both teens and adults, that many people are scared to speak up or ask for help when they think they might have a mental health problem. This is probably the reason why some people wait a whopping 8-10 years (!!!!) to get help after experiencing their first mental illness symptoms. Let’s change that.

It’s Okay to Seek Help From a Counselor

It’s great to have friends to talk to about the things you deal with, but when you’re dealing with something a little heavier than general stress or sadness, it’s best to turn to a professional. Even if you’re not sure if what you’re going through is something that could be a mental health condition, it’s best to chat with a professional to be sure. In the long run, you’ll be glad you did. Plus, sometimes you really just need someone to talk to who isn’t a friend or family member–and that’s where therapy comes in!

I know, I know. You probably think therapy is just for “crazy people.” First of all…let’s erase that word from our vocabulary. People with mental illnesses are not crazy. And if you are dealing with a mental health condition, you are NOT crazy. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.

You may have the stereotypical image in your head of therapy from TV or movies…like somebody lying on a couch crying while the “shrink” asks, “And how does that make you feeeeel?” Sure, maybe therapy is like that sometimes, but it definitely isn’t always (and it’s definitely not with Talkspace). Also, you don’t need to have a mental health condition to go to therapy. Like I said, sometimes you just need an outside source to talk to.

You Can Talk About Anything

In therapy you can talk about literally anything — from school stress to dating stress…like the fact that your crush keeps leaving you on read (ugh!). Your parents have probably said to you, “Honey, you can talk to us about anything!” But let’s be real. You probably don’t want to talk to your parents about stuff like sex *shudder* or even about the pressure that they’re putting on you to do well in school or get into an Ivy League.

With a counselor or therapist, you really can talk about anything without feeling awkward or guilty. Trust me, they’ve heard it all. And hey, they’ve probably been through some of the same things that you’re going through right now! At the very least, they’ve definitely been through that dreaded college app process.

With a counselor, you don’t have to worry about hiding who you really are or what you’re feeling. You don’t have to worry about sounding silly or “dumb” or embarrassed. counselors won’t judge you…and trust me, they’ve really heard everything.

Plus, you know your secrets are safe with them. Counselors aren’t going to start a rumor about you that the whole school will know. You also don’t have to worry about your counselor spilling your secrets to your parents. In fact, in most states, counselors aren’t allowed to share confidential information from your therapy sessions with your parents unless you’ve signed a release — or in extreme cases, if your life is at risk. Even though as a minor, a parent or guardian has to consent to your treatment, YOU have to consent to them knowing what you talk about to your counselor.

Online Therapy is Built For People Like You

Since you’re already on your phone all the time, using Talkspace is extra convenient. You can leave a text or audio message for your counselor anytime, anywhere. Plus, anyone who sees you on your phone will have no idea that you’re texting your counselor!

With Talkspace, your phone becomes a safe space. You can send a message and feel a little better instantly, getting something off your chest, knowing you’ll have awesome advice from your counselor soon. Your counselor will listen to you no matter what, and you’ll know you always have someone who cares and is looking out for your wellbeing.

Next Steps if You Need Help

So, if you’re a teen dealing with a mental health condition, remember these things:

  1. You are not alone.
  2. Help is readily available.
  3. Having a mental health condition and speaking to a counselor is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.

And hey, if you’ve read this whole article, you’re already a step ahead in your mental health journey. Keep going.

For more about Talkspace for Teens, learn how you can start talking with a counselor today.

Published by

Ashley Laderer

Contributor