Can I get mental health help even though I’m only a minor?
Mental health conditions are common among teens and young adults. 50% of all lifetime mental illnesses develop by age 14, and 75% develop by age 24. A mental health condition isn't your fault or your family's fault — these conditions develop for complicated reasons that researchers are only just starting to understand. But we do know a lot about how you can live well with a mental health condition. You have the power to improve your mental health. And it starts with one conversation.
Experiencing mental health symptoms can be scary and confusing. That’s why speaking up and asking for help is a sign of strength. It can be hard to know what to say, but start with something like, “I’m not feeling right. I think I need help. Can I talk to you about it?” Whether you reach out to a parent, coach, teacher or religious leader, a trusted adult can help you figure out what’s next. Mental health services and supports are available and the earlier you access them, the better.
Just remember that you don’t need to go at it alone.If it’s safe to do so, talk with your parents of guardian about what you’re experiencing. You’ll find some tips about having the conversation here.
If it’s not safe to talk with your parents or guardian, try to find another trusted adult or adult figure in your life who might be understanding of your situation or be able to help. Here are some people you may consider reaching out to:
- Other family members and friends
- School teachers or counselors
- Faith-based leaders
- Pediatrician or healthcare provider
The good news is even if your parents or guardian won’t provide consent for therapy, there are many resources available to you. Minors seeking therapy without parental consent should start in their schools. A school counselor or teacher may be able to help you find a solution for your situation.
Researching the laws about minor consent for health care in your state may also open more opportunities. Some states allow minors to seek mental health care in certain situations or for a limited number of sessions. Search “minor self-consent for mental health treatment” in your state to learn more.
However, if it’s an emergency and your safety is in immediate danger, you should call the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline and get help right away.
You might find helpful information on our Kids, Teens and Young Adults page. NAMI also offers multiple programs such as:
If you are entering university, you might find the NAMI College Guide: Starting the Conversation helpful.
Other helpful organizations include:
- The Jed Foundation has an online resource center that provides essential information about common emotional health issues and shows teens and young adults how they can support one another and overcome challenges. They also offer programs and resources to help students have a healthy and positive high school and college experience.
- Center for Young Women’s Health and Young Men’s Health websites provide guides on mental health disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, and eating disorders, and other topics that impact emotional wellbeing such as “bullying”, “alcoholic parents,” “breakups,” “cliques,” “consent,” “test anxiety” and more.
- The Tribe Wellness Community offers online peer support groups for teens facing mental health challenges and/or difficult family dynamics.
- Your Life Your Voice is a service of Boys Town that provides teens with tips and coping techniques to help with tough situations. They also feature an interactive list and print-out of 99 coping skills and strategies at www.yourlifeyourvoice.org/pages/tip-99-coping-skills.aspx.
- Children of Parents with a Mental Illness (COPMI) is an Australian website that offers online resources explaining a parent’s mental illness to children.
- Rainbows for all Children is an international support group network dedicated to providing in-person peer support programs for children, teens and young adults as they navigate grief and heal from loss — whether from death, divorce/separation, deployment, deportation, incarceration or other trauma. Rainbows partners with communities to offer support through channels of peer support with volunteer adult facilitators. They offer a “Find a Group” function on its website.
- Study.com provides a mental health guide for college students which shares tips on wellness and information about resources, support, and special accommodations. You can reach Study.com at (877) 266-4919.
- Teen Help is a website that offers information about common mental health conditions that affect teens.
- Teen Line is a teen hotline providing emotional support and education on common crises or issues to teens via phone, text, chat, email and message boards. Also includes a parent and resource section with blogs and videos. Calls and texts between 6–10 p.m. PT. You can contact Teen Line at (800) 852-8336 and by texting TEEN to 839863.
If you are in danger of hurting yourself and are not able to stay safe, please call the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 for help 24/7. You will be connected to a trained crisis worker to talk with you about your feelings and work with you to develop a plan for staying safe. They can also provide information on local resources, including treatment.
- To reach Nacional de Prevención del Suicidio (Spanish) select "2"
- Lifeline Options for Deaf + Hard of Hearing for TTY Users: use your preferred relay service or dial 711 then 988. You may also text 988, or chat function is available here at 988Lifeline.org
- LGBTQ Youth & Young Adults:
- The Trevor Lifeline provides 24/7 crisis intervention and suicide prevention services for LGBTQ youth & young adults ages 13–24 and can be reached at (866)-488-7386 or text “START” to 678-678.
Boys Town National Hotline operates a 24-hour American Association of Suicidology-accredited crisis line for teens and families at (800) 448-3000.
If texting is more comfortable for you, NAMI maintains a partnership with Crisis Text Line, available 24/7 in the United States. You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting NAMI to 741741 and a trained crisis worker will respond within minutes. The Crisis Text Line is a free, confidential service that is available 24/7 in the United States.
Another option is to seek help at the nearest emergency room.
Other youth-oriented crisis supports that may also be helpful include:
- Covenant House/National Runaway Safeline at (800) 786-2929 is a 24-hour confidential crisis and resource line for at-risk teens considering running away from home; serves as an intermediary for teenagers (13-21) and parents, offers resources for parents of children who have run away, free bus transport home, runaway education; also offers message boards and Live Chat options.
- National Safe Place at (502) 635-3660 is a 24-hour service that provides information to help and support youth in need; additionally, it designates youth-friendly organizations as “Safe Place” locations through its “Find a Safe Place Locator” for teens in a crisis. Text SAFE at your current location to 69866 for help via text (24hrs).