Know the Warning Signs

If you are a teen or young adult, you may feel alone when facing mental health symptoms and the stigma attached to them. As you navigate this time of self-discovery and transition, remember that you are not alone in your struggles—one in every four to five youth experience a mental health disorder. When mental illness symptoms persist, do not hesitate to seek help from a trusted adult, such as a family member or counselor. Although only a physician or psychiatrist could diagnose you, the following behaviors are common warning signs of mental illness:

  • Excessive worrying or fear
  • Feeling excessively sad or low
  • Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning
  • Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable “highs” or feelings of euphoria
  • Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger
  • Avoiding friends and social activities
  • Difficulties understanding or relating to other people
  • Changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired and low energy
  • Changes in eating habits such as increased hunger or lack of appetite
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Difficulty perceiving reality (delusions or hallucinations, in which a person experiences and senses things that don’t exist in objective reality)
  • Inability to perceive changes in one’s own feelings, behavior or personality (”lack of insight” or anosognosia)
  • Overuse of substances like alcohol or drugs
  • Multiple physical ailments without obvious causes (such as headaches, stomach aches, vague and ongoing “aches and pains”)
  • Thinking about suicide
  • Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress
  • An intense fear of weight gain or concern with appearance
  • Changes in school performance
  • Excessive worry or anxiety, for instance fighting to avoid bed or school
  • Hyperactive behavior
  • Frequent nightmares
  • Frequent disobedience or aggression
  • Frequent temper tantrums

Asking for Help

As a teen or transition age youth, you may face obstacles when seeking help. Stigma and discrimination around mental illness is prevalent among youth and young adults, which prevents many young people from accessing the services and systems they need. If possible, surrounding yourself with family and friends who are supportive can have a powerful, positive effect on your mental health journey. It is important to try talking to a trusted adult about your mental health symptoms and needs. Parents, counselors, physicians, social workers, and other adults can serve as your advocate as you navigate mental health treatment. Here are some sources on how to approach adults for mental health help:

How NAMI Can Help

If you are over 18, you may consider joining a NAMI WLA Peer Support Group or Peer to Peer class, where you can learn to navigate living with a mental health condition, share your story, and receive support from peers facing similar challenges. If you are under 18, NAMI offers programs to tackle stigma and raise awareness around mental illness at your school. You can request to bring NAMI WLA’s Ending the Silence program to your middle or high school, where team of presenters will shed light on mental illness, warning signs, their lived experiences, and how to seek help. Additionally, NAMI CA’s NAMI On Campus program supports student-led clubs in high schools and middle schools that promote mental health education and reduce stigma on campus. Here is more information on how to start a club on your campus.

Additional Youth & Transition Age Youth Resources

  • CA Youth Crisis Line: 24/7 emergency response system for youth (ages 12-24) and families in crisis.  
    • (800) 843-5200 
  • Daniel’s Place: Daniel’s Place assists individuals ages 18-28, who are experiencing a mental health need, and who may or may not be experiencing homelessness. It provides information, support groups, resources, and employment assistance.  
    • (310) 392-5855 
  • Safe Place for Youth (SPY): SPY supports youth experiencing homelessness through street outreach, low barrier drop-in services, health and wellness programming, case management and education and employment services. 
    • (310) 902-2283 
  • Southern Californian Health & Rehabilitation Program (SCHARP): SCHARP’s Transitional Age Youth (TAY) Program offers specialized and age appropriate mental health services to unserved, underserved, or inappropriately served young adults who are unwilling or cannot access mental health services in traditional mental health setting. 
    • (310) 627-4566 
  • SHIELDS for Families: SHIELDS’ Youth Mental Health programs provide counseling and treatment for youth and adolescents ages 6-18.  
    • (323) 242-5000 
    • TTD/TTY (800) 735-2922  
  • Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health Transition Age Youth (TAY)/Juvenile Justice Services: TAY programs provide mental health and supportive services for youth (ages 16-25) with severe mental illness or substance abuse disorders. 
    • (213) 738-2322 
  • The Trevor Project: The Treavor Project provides 24/7 crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youth (ages 13-24). 
    • (866) 488-7386 
  • The Good Seed: Good Seed supports transition age youth through supportive housing, job training, comprehensive services, and individual planning. 
    • (323) 758-5433
Mental Health for Adolescents and Transition Age Youth