In partnership with Joon Care

By now, many teens and young adults have grown weary of hearing statistics about themselves in the news. The pandemic brought the issue of youth mental health to the forefront. This is a positive shift, no doubt, especially for teens who received more support as a result. But for others, two years into this global stress experience, it may feel like things are not getting better. Pre-pandemic, the CDC reported that somewhere between 15-20% of teens experience a major depressive episode, with up to 18% seriously considering suicide; those numbers have only grown as the pandemic progressed. 

How do you digest numbers like that, and still wake up each day and go to school or work? For many, it feels like this is a time to care about first romances, first jobs, friendships, prom, but instead you’re steeped in climate change, racial injustice, and the grief of a global pandemic. 

Teen mental health needs a vibe check – we know teens are struggling, so now what? If you are struggling right now, you are not alone. Everyone deserves support, whether your concerns feel small or overwhelming – there is space for all of us. This is the most important vibe check we can do for teen mental health. If an internal voice is telling you “that’s not a big enough deal,” or “no one will be able to handle what I’m going through,” consider how you would respond to a friend or family member with that same concern. Openness and support promote healing and hope. Similarly, if you are supporting a friend or family member with mental health concerns, you can also reach out for help yourself. This first step can be the bridge to a loved one connecting to support directly.

The benefit to more attention on teen mental health is more funding directed to teen-specialized programs. Here’s where to go if you need help:

  • The 988 Lifeline is a great place to start, whether you are considering suicide or struggling with other mental health challenges. 
  • You can also find specific resources if you belong to a special group, such as Black mental health, LGBTQIA+, Native youth, and neurodivergent teens. 
  • TeenLink is “a helpline for teens, by teens,” where you can get judgment-free support.
  • And there are also places like Joon Care that offer specialized therapy for teens and young adults only. 
  • Find more resources for teens, young adults, and loved ones of people struggling with mental health

We all need a “vibe check” now and then, so take this opportunity to check yourself and your loved ones today, especially our teens. The antidote to the isolation brought on by the pandemic is actively seeking out connection now – support is available, all vibes welcome.

By Katey Nicolai, Phd

Katey is a licensed clinical psychologist who received her PhD in Clinical Psychology from Seattle Pacific University and VP of Clinical Services at Joon Care. Dr. Nicolai provides services to adolescents and adults using evidence-based treatment rooted in cognitive-behavioral and psychodynamic therapies, including Dialectical Behavior Therapy, interpersonal therapy, and family systems. Dr. Nicolai has specialized training in treating trauma and PTSD, personality disorders, self-harm and suicidality, family problems, emotion dysregulation, and mood and anxiety disorders.