Supporting Youth Health Mental Health

Support the mental health of young people by reducing negative stereotypes, bias, and stigma. This is particularly important for groups that have an outsized influence on youth, such as families, educators, health care professionals, community leaders, and youth-serving organizations.

Address the needs of youth in communities facing economic challenges and structural barriers to care, including racial and ethnic minorities, LGBTQ+ youth, and youth with disabilities.


Many people feel anxious at times, but when feelings of anxiety become intense and hard to control, they may be a sign of a mental health problem. Symptoms include difficulty concentrating, muscle tension and problems sleeping. Children and teens who are very anxious should see their doctor for help.

Anxiety can interfere with a person’s daily life, and can lead to depression or self-harm, especially when accompanied by withdrawal from friends or family. People with anxiety disorders also are at increased risk of suicide.

Anxiety disorders are common in children and adolescents, but they can be treated. Psychotherapy called cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is one of the most effective treatments for anxiety. This involves addressing patterns of thinking, beliefs and behaviours that trigger anxiety symptoms, such as avoidance behaviours. It then slowly exposes individuals to situations and stimuli that they normally would avoid, using a process called systematic desensitisation. This reduces anxiety over time. Medication is also often used to manage anxiety.


Depression can affect a person’s life in many ways, including the way they think, feel and behave. It can cause people to have problems with school, work and relationships. It can also affect a person’s physical health. It is important to get treatment for depression, because it can be treated with medication and other things, like psychotherapy.

Depression is common in teenagers. It can be caused by a combination of factors, like genetics and brain development, and by environmental factors, such as stress and poor coping skills. It is important to talk about depression with a trusted adult, like a parent or teacher.

If you are worried about your child, talk to a GP or children and young people’s mental health services (CYPMHS). They can refer them for specialist help. This can include counselling, family therapy or support groups. Getting help early can improve your child’s chances of recovery. This is because the earlier treatment begins, the more effective it will be.


Suicide is a major public health concern, with tremendous negative impacts on the lives of those who die and those left behind. Adolescents are especially susceptible to suicide because of mood lability and developmental changes.

Youth suicide rates rise throughout adolescence, and it is one of the leading causes of death among young people worldwide. Those who are most at risk include adolescents living in humanitarian and fragile settings; those with a chronic illness or disability, including mental illness; those who are sexual minorities, have been victims of abuse (physical, emotional or sexual) or stigmatized for their beliefs or behaviors; or those who are disconnected from their communities or social support networks.

Non-fatal suicide attempts, such as cutting and burning without any intent to kill, occur in about 17-18% of adolescents. These types of self-inflicted injuries are also associated with a greater risk of subsequent suicide deaths. In addition, comorbidity of affective disorders significantly increases suicide risk.


A strong social network can be protective against mental health issues. Those with a supportive family and group of friends are less likely to experience symptoms of depression and anxiety. Youth who feel isolated are more likely to have suicidal thoughts.

Several studies have linked romantic relationships to adolescent psychosocial development and mental health. Adolescents who seek counseling support often report relationship problems as one of the reasons they are seeking help. Moreover, there is research suggesting that the dissolution of a romance may be associated with elevated levels of depressive and anxiety symptoms among adolescents who are help-seeking.

Whether you’re a parent, teacher, school staff member, community organization leader or caring citizen, you can play an important role in helping youth thrive. Become a certified Youth Mental Health First Aid instructor and learn how to recognize the signs and respond to a youth who is experiencing a mental health challenge or is in crisis.