Youth Mental Health

Why Youth Mental Health Matters

One of NAMI’s main goals is to ensure that people get help early. Since mental health conditions typically begin during childhood, adolescence, or young adulthood, we have compiled essential information and resources intended to help young people get the mental health support they need.

You Are Not Alone

Signs of mental health condition often emerge during adolescence. The teenage years bring on so much change in an individual's life where they are introduced to new stressors. Young people can begin to worry about family, friends, school, body image, plans for their future, and their identity. About half of all people who experience a mental health condition in their lifetime begin experiencing symptoms before the age of 14, but other teens and their family members often do not notice them until several years later.

Determining whether certain behavior is typical, or a symptom of mental health condition can be difficult. it can be even harder for young people who live in a low-income household or who are part of communities that experience prejudice, racism, exclusion, or marginalization.

Providing Support

The good news is that if you ask for help and support early on, you can find healthy ways to get through your teen years and prepare for life as a young adult — even if you have a mental health condition

Although most of us usually turn to friends first when we are struggling with something, it's important to recognize when mental health concern is lasting longer than usual or getting worse. if that does happen, do not try to handle it on your own. Let an adult you trust know about it so you can get help

Deciding When to Ask for Help

The brain controls everything in our body: our breathing, speech, movement, heartrate, body temperature and senses. It also controls the way we think and act. These can all be affected by mental health conditions, which are the result of a complication in the way our brain is working.

So, When do you know its time to ask for help? It’s time to ask for help when our difficulties with our feelings/emotions, thinking or behaviors:

  • Are too intense or cause too much distress
  • Last more than two weeks
  • Interfere with daily life, causing difficulties sleeping, eating, concentrating, working, enjoying things or relating to others
  • Lead us to withdraw from relationships
  • Are accompanied by other problems like misuse of alcohol or drugs, thoughts of self-harm or aggressive behaviors
  • Lead us to dangerous behaviors or risky decisions

What does all of this mean for you? It means that, if you notice that you feel differently, and you don’t enjoy things you typically have in the past — like hanging out with friends, playing on your sports team, making good grades in school, eating when you’re hungry — it’s time to talk to an adult that you trust.

You don’t have to experience these feelings alone. There is always someone in your life that can help when you’re struggling, from parents or caregivers to coaches to teachers to people in your faith community. The important thing is that you tell someone how you’re feeling.

Asking for Help

NAMI Programs and Resources for Youth

Ending The Silence

Ending The Silence is a 50-minute presentation designed for students including warning signs, facts and statistics and how to get help for themselves or a friend.

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Youth & Young Adult Support Groups

NAMI Youth Support Group is a new free, peer-led support group led by NAMI-trained facilitators who have personal experience of living with mental illness. Youth support (high school age) and Young Adult support (age 18-30) is designed for individuals in the age range living with mental illness who will gain insight from hearing from others like you.

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NAMI on Campus

NAMI on Campus clubs work to end the stigma that makes it hard for students to talk about mental health and allows them to get the help they need.

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For Family Member or Care Givers

Having a young adult with a mental health condition can be a challenge, but there are ways to help make things easier.  Begin by taking notice of the individual’s moods, behaviors and emotions. Early intervention, especially with signs of psychosis, is critical because mental health conditions often get worse without treatment.

Many conditions are cyclical, and periods of strong symptoms may come and go. Symptoms aren’t visible all the time. Young people may also hide certain symptoms by saying and doing what they believe is expected of them.

What To Do If You Notice Symptoms

If you think you notice symptoms, schedule an appointment with a licensed psychiatrist or psychologist as soon as you can, or if that is not possible, then with your pediatrician or primary care physician. Make sure that you provide your healthcare professional with as much detailed information as you can:

  • Past mental health evaluations and other medical records
  • Last more than two weeks
  • Descriptions of symptoms, when they began, and whether they have changed over time
  • Any medications or other medical treatments that your child is receiving
  • Anything else that is requested or that you think might be valuable information

If a doctor, psychologist or counselor does not provide a diagnosis or referral to another professional, you should ask why and consider their reasoning. If you disagree, trust your instincts and seek a second opinion. It is often better to be cautious than to ignore a potentially serious problem.

If your child reports seeing or hearing things that are not there, without the influence of drugs or alcohol, then you should seek medical treatment immediately. This may be an episode of psychosis. Such episodes might also include: spontaneous violent behavior, denial of reality, nonsensical and paranoid claims, removal of clothing, reckless and dangerous behavior, or claims of invincibility and other special powers.

Learn All That You Can

In addition to seeking help from healthcare professionals, you should educate yourself as much as possible about your child’s mental health condition. NAMI Basics is an educational class that teaches parents and other family caregiver show to cope with their child’s condition and manage their recovery.

Talk With Their School
Check to be sure that your child is receiving appropriate care and services at school. Children with mental health conditions may struggle in school without assistance, leading to frustration and stress. Fortunately, the law requires that schools provide special services and accommodations to children with mental health conditions that interfere with their education. Learn more about how to acquire necessary educational services.

Communicate With Them

You need to remain respectful and understanding of your child’s feelings even if everything seems to be working against you. You should avoid getting angry at them for behaviors that are not under their control. This does not mean you can’t set limits or impose discipline. What it does mean is that you must set your expectations in consideration of your child’s mental health. This is often referred to as part of “finding a new normal.”

Although it can be hard to accept, people who develop mental health conditions may never be the same as they were before. Expecting the same standards of behavior from prior to the onset of their mental health condition will only cause frustration and stress for everyone.

NAMI Programs and Resources for Families

Family Support Groups

Family Support Groups are open only to family members, care givers, and friends of a loved one with mental illness seeking support, compassion, and education about caring for their loved one. We have a Family Support Group specifically for parents and caregivers of youth and young adult.

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Basics On Demand

NAMI Basics On Demand is a 6-session education program for people who provide care for youth (ages 22 and younger) who are experiencing mental health symptoms.

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Ending The Silence for Families

NAMI Ending the Silence for Families is a 1.5-hour presentation for adults with middle or high school aged youth that includes warning signs, facts and statistics, how to talk with your child and how to work with school staff. NAMI Ending the Silence presentations include two leaders: one who shares an informative presentation and a young adult with a mental health condition who shares their journey of recovery. Audience members can ask questions and gain understanding of an often-misunderstood topic. Through dialogue, we can help grow the movement to end stigma.

Ending the Silence for Families is coming soon

Coming Soon
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The mission of NAMI Jacksonville is to support and improve the quality of life for family members and those living with mental illnesses and co-occurring substance abuse through compassion, education, and advocacy.

NAMI Jacksonville Florida
40 E. Adams St., Ste. LL05
Jacksonville, FL 32202

CALL: 904-323-4723

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