Mental Health Resources for Students of All Ages

    8/31/22

    Imagine making your way through life these days as an impressionable young person. Now more than ever, kids are exposed to all the good, the bad, and the ugly via the Internet and social media—the pandemic, wars, global turmoil, political discourse, bullying, judgment, and trolls. It's a lot. And parents are in a constant state of concern about the ways the constant exposure to information and other factors impact their children.

    Mental health resources are more readily available to Generations Z and Alpha than to past generations, but sifting through all the options can feel daunting. Your intentions as a parent or caregiver are always for the overall wellness of your child, but it can be overwhelming and maybe even outside of your own comfort zone to navigate these resources.

    The best pathways to a better state of mind and well-being vary depending on circumstances, but the first step is finding appropriate resources and setting your child up for success by implementing behaviors that may help alleviate symptoms or offset stressors that contribute. 

    Mental health resources for elementary students

    It’s a common enough question: do elementary-age students really experience anxiety, depression, or other mental and behavioral health needs? Absolutely, says the Centers for Disease Control.

    Almost 10 percent of children ages three to 17 have diagnosed anxiety, and almost 5 percent have diagnosed depression. But plenty more may live with these mental health conditions and symptoms for years, maybe even into adulthood, before receiving a diagnosis.

    Recognizing the mental and behavioral health needs of children before they hit their teenage years helps ensure they have every opportunity to socially, academically, and personally thrive. This is why knowledge of and access to age-appropriate mental health resources for parents of elementary students is so important. 

    Mental health resources for parents of elementary students

    ADHD symptoms in young children often mimic and are often comorbid with other conditions that impact learning and behavior, including anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and mood disorders. Two great resources to help parents sort through the differences, similarities, and various courses of action related to diagnosis and treatment as professionals navigate best courses of action are:

    CHADD, or Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, is an education and advocacy organization dedicated to provide support to parents and educators. 
    Call: 301-306-7070
    Hours: Monday-Friday, 1 to 5 pm EST
    CHADD has a network of affiliates across the United States. To find the nearest you, click here.

    The Mayo Clinic Children’s Health Site
    The Mayo Clinic provides a plethora of resources related to children’s health to help inform parents of symptoms related to a variety of physical and mental health conditions/diagnoses, as well as causes, risk factors, and recommendations for when to see your local doctor.
    In addition, there are a number of resources specific to mental health in the early stages of mental health diagnoses, as well as caregiver support groups and networks:

    The Balanced Mind Parent Network
    This is an online community (part of the International Bipolar Foundation) of parents of children with mood disorders. This resource will connect you to information on treatment, educational resources, and discussion boards organized by age range.
    Call: 847-492-8510
    Email: helpline@thebalancedmind.org

    Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA)
    Find tools, information, and resources to navigate caring for a child diagnosed with depression or bipolar disorder, as well as tips for finding a clinician.
    Call: 800-826-3632

    DBSA’s Parent and Caregiver Network
    This is a community and support network for parents/caregivers of children diagnosed with mood disorders. Responses may take up to 2 days, per the website.
    Email: community@dbsalliance.org
    Call: (800) 826-3632
    To find a local DBSA support group, click here.

    Worry Wise Kids
    This online network supports parents of children with anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Tourette Syndrome, and other diagnoses. Resources on causes, treatments, a child’s rights related to diagnoses and their impact on learning, and much more are available through numerous links on the site’s home page. The organization also offers workshops and training sessions. All correspondence with and questions to staff occur through the website.

    Healthy habits to develop

    Stay active, get rest, eat well, and encourage hobbies.

    Physical exercise, adequate sleep, and a nourishing diet are among the healthy behaviors that will help children with behavioral conditions, according to the CDC. 

    Consider enrolling your elementary-age student in local athletic clubs, such as dance, gymnastics, or soccer, to encourage regular engagement in best mental health practices at this age.

    Art, coloring, painting, and drawing can also be great stress relievers for young children. Exercises like the softness project can be done individually or in a play setting with others, allowing children to use their senses to create a piece of art that helps them tell a story. With younger children, this can help create a feeling of calmness as they are creating their piece and thinking through their narrative.

    If your child is exhibiting high energy, try directing them to other activities that allow them to create. Help them build an obstacle course in the backyard or the park while making use of roller skates, bicycles, skateboards, or tennis rackets—the sky’s the limit! This can help your child channel emotion in a positive way while also encouraging creativity and physical activity. 

    Mental health resources for middle school students

    Middle school is a pivotal time in students’ development, as preteens find their social and academic stride. This can mean discovering new best friends, hobbies, or interests, and it can also mean exposure to bullying, self-consciousness, and peer pressure, which can contribute to social anxiety and depression in young teens.

    Mental health resources for middle school students will help guide kids through these uncertainties so they can comfortably socialize and mature again. It’s important to remember that they are at an age of uncertainty. They may want or need your help with navigating emotions, but they may also want to search for that information on their own. The resources below are for both parents and pre-teens/early teens.

    Mental health resources for parents and middle school students

    School counselors provide safe spaces for middle school students to share their challenges and frustrations as they maneuver the uncharted waters of new academic expectations and social hierarchies in school. Don’t hesitate to reach out to them, and encourage your student to do so. Be sure to check with your child’s school to see who the counseling contacts are. Remember, some counselors are strictly academic, while others have credentials to assist students with social and emotional challenges that may arise. 

    To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA)
    TWLOHA is a nonprofit organization that helps young people and adults who have found themselves struggling with self-harm, depression, and suicide. While it is scary to think that your child may be experiencing these thoughts, it is far better to know and understand what to do to help. 
    TWLOHA serves as a resource and bridge to a number of resources and provides the following list of 24-hour confidential helplines, which are listed below.

    Crisis Text Line
    Live, trained crisis counselors are available 24/7. It is “for any painful emotion, anytime you need support”. 
    Text: HOME to 741741 from anywhere in the United States, anytime.

    For international help, visit this site: https://www.crisistextline.org/about-us/where-we-are/

    Suicide Prevention Hotline
    This is a 24/7, free, confidential support resource for people in distress, or for anyone seeking prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones.
    Call or Text: 988

    National Domestic Violence Hotline for Teens
    This site offers 24/7 free support for teens, young adults, and their loved ones with help, resources, and info about dating abuse.
    Call (24/7): 1-866-331-9474
    800.787.3224 (TTY)
    Text (24/7): Text LOVEIS to 22522
    Chat (24/7): Click here and then click Chat Live Now

    Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline
    You will be connected with a professional crisis counselor by calling or texting.
    Call (24/7): 1 -800-4-A-CHILD 
    Text (24/7): 1-800-422-4453
    To live chat (24/7), click here.
    To find your local chapter, click here.

    The Trevor Project
    24/7 support and information for young people in the LGBTQ community.
    Call (24/7): Click Call Us or dial 1-866-488-7386
    Text (24/7): Text START to 678-678
    Chat (24/7): Click here to Open a Chat

    Healthy habits to develop

    Encouraging healthy habits, plus journaling and networking

    Some of the very same healthy habits developed young in life remain the same through adolescence and adulthood. So the same touchpoints remain for middle school-age students when it comes to overall wellness behaviors. Remaining physically active, eating a healthy diet, and finding hobbies are all still very important. 

    Remember, though, that for middle-schoolers, new stressors have been introduced. While some children can lean more heavily into activities and habits that easily transition into the pre-teen/teen world, others will find they need to develop new strategies. For instance, art can continue to alleviate stress and help the artist channel emotion in a positive way. In fact, art can provide plenty of opportunities for skill development that requires patience, creativity, and collaboration. It even challenges the less dominant side of the brain. This can allow space to decompress and refocus emotion and energy.

    Middle school is also a great time to introduce journaling as a way to help teens navigate their feelings, both positive and negative. Encourage your student to write for 10 uninterrupted minutes, responding to one prompt per day. They can choose whether or not they want to share what they’ve written. Just be sure to discuss what the privacy expectations are regarding your access to their writings.

    Your child may be intimidated to venture out into the school culture, particularly if they’re experiencing a heightened sense of anxiety or fluctuations of mood. Help them to spread their wings and make new connections by encouraging participation in at least one or two clubs and activities.

    Mental health resources for high school students

    Parenting older teenagers can be quite an adventure. Sometimes trying to communicate with them feels like struggling to decipher an alien language. Regardless, you and your child should be well informed on what mental health resources for high school students are available, just in case they’re ever needed.

    Multiple crisis hotlines and intervention resources exist for when a teenager’s mental health is in urgent crisis, including:

    Crisis Text Line
    Live, trained crisis counselors are available 24/7. It is “for any painful emotion, anytime you need support”.
    Text HOME to 741741 from anywhere in the United States, anytime.
    For international help, visit this site:
    https://www.crisistextline.org/about-us/where-we-are/

    Suicide Prevention Hotline
    This is a 24/7, free, confidential support resource for people in distress, or for anyone seeking prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones.
    Call or Text: 988

    National Domestic Violence Hotline for Teens
    This site offers 24/7 free support for teens, young adults, and their loved ones with help, resources, and info about dating abuse.
    Call (24/7)1-866-331-9474
    800.787.3224 (TTY)
    Text (24/7): Text LOVEIS to 22522
    Chat (24/7): Click here and then click Chat Live Now

    Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline
    You will be connected with a professional crisis counselor by calling or texting.
    Call (24/7): 1-800-4-A-CHILD 
    Text (24/7): 1-800-422-4453
    To Live Chat (24/7), click here.
    To find your local chapter, click here.

    The Trevor Project
    24/7 support and information for young people in the LGBTQ community.
    Call (24/7): Click Call Us or dial 1-866-488-7386
    Text (24/7): Text START to 678-678
    Chat (24/7): Click here to Open a Chat

    Healthy habits to develop

    Build your community, practice gratitude, and hone your soft skills

    A strong sense of community within a high schooler’s circle is critical for many students when it comes to mental health and overall happiness. During the pandemic, we learned that distance—whether forced or by design—does not have to mean “disconnection.” Teens live in a highly virtual world, and that opens up lots of doors for connections they may not otherwise have. Maybe, if your child has trouble with in-person interactions, virtual opportunities for clubs and activities will provide them with those connections to help establish friendships and avoid isolation.

    Encourage your teen to practice gratitude and mindfulness through journaling, meditating, or yoga. But don’t forget to emphasize the importance of learning soft skills, like effectively communicating, listening to others, and managing time to avoid missed deadlines or opportunities. These types of skills can help teens feel more in control, which can also lead to increased self-esteem and more confidence in who they are. 

    It’s important to understand and acknowledge that mental and emotional health should be taken just as seriously as physical health. It's important for all ages, not just adulthood. Helping support children holistically can directly impact their growth in all areas of life, academically and otherwise.

    If you or someone else needs immediate assistance, call 911.