If you need help NOW, please call or text 988.


How do I know if my teen is depressed?
Look for the following symptoms of depression: losing interest in activities they used to enjoy, withdrawing from friends and family, grades dropping in school, change in eating or sleeping habits, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, irritability, drug or alcohol use, thoughts of suicide or hurting themselves.

What does depression look like in teens?
Depression can look different in every person, and some people are very good at hiding their depression. Some signs that your teen might be depressed include spending more time alone and less time with friends and family, worsening grades in school, feeling irritable and easily annoyed, using drugs or alcohol, or not caring as much about their appearance. Sometimes it is invisible to others, so it is important to keep open communication with your loved one.

Is it depression or just regular emotions?
Sadness and grief are normal responses to difficult times in life. They are momentary and can come and go. Depression is more persistent. It lasts for 2 or more weeks and interferes with daily activities. Depression can lead to changes in appetite, sleep, energy, and can even cause physical symptoms like headaches and stomach aches.

How do I know if my teen is struggling with anxiety?
Feeling anxious and worried at times, such as before a big test or sporting event or after a move to a new school is normal. When anxiety and worry become excessive and start to interfere with daily activities, that’s when it may be more serious.

What does anxiety look like in teens?
Anxiety in teens can look similar to depression. The signs can include fatigue, having trouble with sleep, and poor concentration. They may complain of headaches, stomach-aches or body aches and pains and may be more irritable. Anxiety may cause your teen to experience a change in school performance, and they may start to avoid school, activities, and social interactions.



What is depression?
Depression is a common and serious medical condition that can affect the way a person feels, thinks, and acts. It can cause problems at home, at school, and in a person’s social life. It is NOT a sign of weakness.

How common is depression?
About 1 in 5 teens suffer with depression.

How early can depression start?
Depression can develop from a very young age. Half of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14.

Does depression run in families?
Yes. Depression and other mental health conditions may run in families. Other things that can trigger or worsen depression include traumatic events (such as abuse or loss of a loved one) and major life stressors (such as bullying, pressure from school or sports, conflicts with friends or family).

How is depression treated in teens?
Treatment for depression includes therapy and sometimes medications. It often takes weeks to months to see improvement, but it is important to remember that depression is a treatable medical condition.


What is anxiety?
There are different kinds of anxiety which include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder and different phobia-related disorders. An anxiety disorder is not the same as occasionally worrying about things or experiencing anxiety due to stressful life events. Anxiety disorders involve persistent worry or fear that interferes with daily life.

How common is anxiety?
About 1 in 3 teens will experience some form of an anxiety disorder.

How early can anxiety start?
Anxiety disorders can begin at a very early age with children as young as 4 years old. If not treated, the symptoms can worsen as the child gets older.

Does anxiety run in families?
Anxiety can run in families, but that is not the only way a teen might develop an anxiety disorder.

How is anxiety treated?
Like depression, anxiety can be treated with therapy, medication or a combination of both.

Where can I learn more about depression and anxiety in teens?


How do I talk to my teen about depression and anxiety?

Listen. Be supportive. Let your child know that it is ok to talk about and care for their mental health. Here are some do’s and dont’s of speaking with your teen about depression and mental health:

  • DO:
    • Pay attention to your child’s feelings.
    • Find a time and place to talk with as few distractions as possible.
    • Listen. Do not lecture. Let them know that you are there to listen without judgement.
    • Be supportive and reassure them that their feelings are not their fault – that depression and anxiety are common, treatable, and are not a sign of weakness.
    • Model good behavior. Do not be afraid to talk openly about your own thoughts and feelings so that your children see that this is normal and okay.
    • If they are feeling depressed, ask them if they have had any thoughts about suicide or hurting themselves. Asking about suicide does NOT cause suicidal thoughts or behaviors. In fact, it may make your child more comfortable talking to you if it ever becomes an issue.
  • DON’T:
    • Don’t make them feel as though their feelings are silly or irrational.
    • Don’t brush them off by saying things like, “you just had a bad day,” “you’re overreacting,” or “toughen up”.
    • Don’t punish mistakes or lack of progress.
    • Don’t give up! If your child does not want to talk to you at that moment, find another time when they would feel more comfortable. You can also try to find another trusted adult in their life who they may feel comfortable talking to.

Should my teen talk to a healthcare provider about depression and anxiety?

Remember that depression and anxiety are medical issues that should be cared for just like you would for a broken bone or an infection. We ALL have mental health and it is our responsibility to care for our mental health just as we care for our physical health. There are several different types of health care providers who treat mental health problems. These include counselors, therapists, and doctors like pediatricians, family practitioners, and psychiatrists. Make an appointment with your teen’s doctor to talk about their mental health. They will provide a non-judgmental setting for your teen to express what they have been going through, assist in finding a diagnosis, and offer treatment options. This is especially critical if your teen is experiencing thoughts of suicide or self-harm.

Reach Out and connect

When should I seek help?
As soon as possible! Unfortunately, the average delay between onset of mental illness symptoms and treatment is 11 years. High school students with significant symptoms of depression are more than twice as likely to drop out of school compared to their peers. So don’t wait- seek help as soon as you feel that there might be a problem with your teen’s mental health.
Where do I go to find help for my teen?
Speaking with your children’s pediatrician or family doctor is a great place to start. They can provide help or a referral to a mental health specialist, if needed. Local or online support groups are another great place to find guidance and encouragement for you and your family.


Here you will find a helpful list of resources based on a range of specific mental health issues. This section also answers questions about finding a therapist, insurance coverage for mental health treatments, local support groups, and mental health hotlines.

Finding help; where do I start?

Speak with your child’s doctor. They can provide help or a referral to a mental health specialist, if needed. If you feel that your child is in immediate danger of harming themselves, you should take them to the nearest emergency department.

Where can I find a therapist for my teen?

Start by asking your child’s doctor for a recommendation or referral for a therapist or behavioral health specialist. Here are some other options for finding a therapist near you:

SAMHSA Treatment Locator

Psychology Today

Open Counseling

  • An organization whose mission it is to make counseling affordable to all. Use their search engine to find therapists near you who are accepting new patients.
  • https://www.opencounseling.com/

Will my insurance cover mental health treatments?

Contact your insurance provider directly by calling the phone number on the back of your insurance card. Request a list of “in network” therapists and mental health providers in your area. This way you can ensure that you find a provider who will be covered by your insurance plan. Once you have found a provider, you should verify again with your insurance company to confirm coverage.

Medicare.gov has a treatment locator to search for providers that take Medicare in your area.

What if I don’t have health insurance or my insurance doesn’t cover therapy?

  • Talk to your child’s doctor to see if they can provide recommendations for low-cost behavioral health services.
  • Visit https://www.findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov/ to find a federally funded health center near you. These community health centers serve underserved populations and may offer a sliding scale fee.
  • Visit the National Association for Free and Charitable Clinics at https://nafcclinics.org/find-clinic/ to find organizations near you that help economically disadvantaged individuals.
  • SAMHSA Treatment Locator has a search engine that can filter therapists by cost of treatment. https://www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov/
  • Speak with your child’s school social worker or counselor. Many schools partner with community mental health providers to help with mental health services for their students.

Mental Health Hotlines

Nebraska Family Helpline: 1-888-866-8660
Help for Nebraska families when dealing with their children’s behavioral health concerns

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call or Text 988 for the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

  • Free and available 24/7
  • Visit SuicidePreventionLifeline.org to chat online with a crisis counselor
  • Spanish speaking counselors available and interpreters for >100 languages
  • Their website has options for those who are deaf and hard of hearing

Local Support Groups

NAMI Family-to-Family

  • Free, 8-session educational program for family members, significant others and friends of people living with mental illness.
  • It is a designated evidence-based program. Research shows that the program significantly improves the coping and problem-solving abilities of the people closest to an individual with a mental health condition.
  • Sign up HERE
  • More info at https://naminebraska.org/nami-family-to-family/

NAMI Family Support group

  • Peer-led support group for any adult with a loved one who has experienced symptoms of a mental health condition. Gain insight from the challenges and successes of others facing similar experiences.
  • Must be 18 or older to join
  • Free of cost
  • Meets weekly
  • Sign up HERE
  • More info at NAMI Nebraska at (402) 345-8101 or info@naminebraska.org

Topic-Specific Resources


National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline

  • Text LOVEIS to 22522
  • Call 1-866-331-9474 (available 24/7)
  • Visit: LoveIsRespect.org for more information

National Sexual Assault Hotline

  • Call 1-800-656-HOPE (available 24/7)
  • Free and confidential
  • Chat online with a counselor at RAINN.org

Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline

  • Call 1-800-4-A-CHILD (422-4453)
  • Available 24/7


Anxiety & Depression Association of America

  • ADAA.org
  • Visit their website for facts and information about anxiety

American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

  • aacap.org
  • Visit their website for anxiety resources including anxiety workbooks, videos, treatment resources, and helpful apps and podcasts



  • Advice for adults about how to stop bullying

Cyberbullying Research Center




National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call or Text 988 for the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

  • Visit SuicidePreventionLifeline.org to chat online with a crisis counselor
  • Free, confidential and available 24/7
  • Spanish speaking counselors available and interpreters for >100 languages
  • Their website has options for those who are deaf and hard of hearing

Drugs and Alcohol

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline: 1-800-662-4357 (1-800-662-HELP)

  • Visit: SAMHSA.gov to help find treatment for substance use disorders

Truth: Smoking, Vaping, and Opioids

  • Text DITCHVAPE to 88709 for 24/7 support

Alcoholics Anonymous


Eating Disorders

National Eating Disorders Association

  • Visit: NationalEatingDisorders.org
    • Chat with a counselor online (Mon-Thur from 9AM-9PM ET, Fri 9AM-5PM ET)
    • Call 1-800-931-2237 to speak with a counselor (Mon-Thur 11AM-9PM ET, Fri 11AM-5PM ET), translation services available
    • Text 1-800-931-2237 to text with a counselor (Mon-Thur 3PM-6PM ET, Fri 1PM-5PM ET), standard text message rates may apply
    • CRISIS TEXT LINE: Text “NEDA” to 741741
    • Free, confidential, and available 24/7

    National Association for Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders

    • Visit: ANAD.org for more information for teens and parents about eating disorders
    • Call their Helpline at 1-888-375-7767 (Mon-Fri 9AM-9PM CST)

Indigenous Youth


  • Visit their website for mental health tools for caregivers
  • Text Mind4Health to 65664 for help talking to your child about mental health

We R Native

  • Visit: WeRNative.org/my-mind
  • Text CARING to 65664 to ask questions about mental health, relationships, and more


The Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386

Trans Lifeline

  • Call the number below and ask for the Friends and Family Line to speak with someone who has experience supporting trans people
  • Call: 1-877-565-8860


Self-harm Hotline 1-800-366-8288 (1-800-DON’T-CUT)

  • Selfinjury.com
  • Visit their website for a free parent webinar on how to help your child

Youth Living in or Transitioning from Foster Care

Nebraska Foster and Adoptive Parent Association

  • nfapa.org
  • A resource for foster and adoptive parents in Nebraska

Nebraska Children’s Home Society Forever Families

  • Visit their site to learn about support and resources for adoptive parents

STAY SAFE- Suicide and self-harm

In 2019, about 19% of high school students seriously considered attempting suicide. Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among people age 10-19.

What if my teen is thinking about suicide?

If your child is having thoughts of suicide or self-harm, remove dangerous items from the home such as weapons, sharp knives, razors, and prescription medications and seek help from a healthcare professional.

If your child is in immediate danger of harming themselves, take them to the nearest emergency room.

What if my teen is hurting themselves?

Remove dangerous items from the home such as weapons, sharp knives, razors, and prescription medications and seek help from a healthcare professional as soon as possible.

If you feel that your child is in immediate danger of harming themselves, take them to the nearest emergency room.

You can visit: https://selfinjury.com/home/resources/helping-child-self-harm-seminar/ for access to a free online seminar for parents seeking to better understand and help their child who is self-injuring.

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