My teenager is acting differently. Could it be the beginning of mental illness?

You may find much of the information contained on NAMI’s website to be a helpful place to begin.  In particular, Know the Warning Signs and our Teens & Young Adults sections cover a number of important topics including How to Help a FriendFriendship and Mental HealthManaging a Mental Health Condition in College and Starting the Conversation:  College and Your Mental Health.

The Treatment section of NAMI’s website provides an overview of the types of mental health professionals, types of psychotherapy and medications, treatment settings, and complementary treatments. 

We would urge you to seek our your local NAMI Affiliate to sign up for NAMI Basics (in-person) or NAMI Basics OnDemand (online), each of which are 6-session programs for parents, guardians or other allies of youth (age 22 or younger) who are experiencing mental health issues. The programs offer relevant information on the impact of mental illness on families, and the types of care and community services available.  NAMI Basics is an in-person program and NAMI Basics OnDemand offers open enrollment online, completed at your own pace.  Both are offered for free.


If your loved one is engaging in self-harm, NAMI’s website provides extensive information through blogs discussing self-harm to help individuals and loved ones gain insight into the condition, as well as techniques that can be used to provide support, and reduce and eliminate self-harming behavior.  Additionally:

  • Adolescent Self Injury Foundation provides information and resources to adolescents and young adult self-injurers and their families. In particular, their How Parents Can Help page provides a list of “Do’s and Don’ts” to guide parents on how to help a loved one, and an extensive list of alternative behaviors to help self-injurers implement alternative coping mechanisms.
  • S.A.F.E. Alternatives (800) 366-8288 is a nationally recognized treatment approach, professional network and education resources base, committed to helping achieve an end to self-injurious behavior. Their phone line has an extension option for adolescents and teens calling in crisis and provides the National Suicide prevention helpline to all other callers in crisis.
  • The Buddy Project aims to prevent suicide and to provide self-harm alternatives by pairing people through social media as buddies and raising awareness for mental health.

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