Teens: Things That Get in the Way of Mental Health Care


Here are some common reasons teens don't get mental health care, and some ideas to get around them.

  • "I don't understand what mental health care is." Mental health care means getting treatment for issues in your life, like feeling stressed, anxious, angry, or hopeless. It can also help with difficult things from your past, such as the death of someone you cared about. And it can help with stuff you want to change now, like stopping vaping or using drugs.
  • "I can lean on my friends and family." It's good to have support from people you're close to, but some issues need extra help. When you get mental health care, you have regular visits with a trained health professional like a counselor or therapist. With their help, you find ways to manage your issues so you can feel better.
  • "I can't trust counselors. They'll tell others about my issues." Counselors take privacy seriously. But they must let others know if you have plans to hurt yourself or someone else, or if someone is hurting you. Also, your parents may be able to look at your medical records. You can talk to your counselor more about how this works.
  • "I'm worried about what people will think." You get to decide which friends you tell. But you likely won't have that choice with some family members, like your parents. If a family member is hard to talk to, you can work with your counselor on what to do.
  • "I'm too busy to go to counseling." It may help to think of counseling as important too—especially if issues keep you from learning or having fun. What are some ways you could work counseling into a busy week? One idea is to look for a counselor who can see you after school or on the weekends.
  • "I don't know how to get to counseling." If you don't live near a counselor, you may be able to meet with one online. Many counselors do online video counseling, or teletherapy. If you're under 18, you'll need permission from your parents to sign up.

If you want more information, you could talk to a school counselor or your doctor. You may also want to look online. One resource you could try is the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website. Go to nami.org/Your-Journey/Teens-Young-Adults to learn more.


Current as of: June 24, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board
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