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Community Health: Education, Prevention & Inspiration

We all have a part to play in supporting youth mental health

Adolescence is an exciting time of notable milestones, growing independence, and responsibilities relished by both caregivers and youth. Despite that, adolescence can be challenging. On top of the physical, cognitive, and emotional changes, today’s social demands and circumstances- think tech use and social media, can take a toll on youth’s mental well-being. Poor mental health harms students’ health, grades, and decision-making skills. It is crucial to address mental health early to prevent issues from worsening. 

Depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation are on the rise among youth. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2021, 42% of high school students felt persistently sad or hopeless, and 29% experienced poor mental health. More than 1 in 5 students seriously considered attempting suicide. 

The situation is even direr among LGBTQ+ youth and youth of color. In 2021, 45% of LGBQ+ students seriously considered attempting suicide, and black students were likelier to attempt suicide than students of other races. Additionally, youth of color may experience factors that exacerbate poor mental health, such as discrimination, concerns about immigration status, and lower access to mental health services.

What can we do to support youth’s mental well-being? 

  • Help youth feel connected – building strong bonds with others at home, school, and in their community, can boost resilience. Teach teens about healthy relationships and help them manage friendships.
  • Practice healthy communication – Interpersonal problems are often the result of poor communication. Teach and model assertive communication and pro-social behaviors.
  • Provide reassurance – One common concern for youth is knowing they are “normal.” Assure youth they are in good company with their insecurities. 
  • Offer a safe space – Foster safe, supportive, and inclusive environments. Adolescence is when youth are learning who they are and shaping their identity, and it can be harmful to hear critical comments even when not directed towards them. Help them feel at ease by showing them that essential people in their lives accept them and are available to help with questions or problems.
  • Help youth handle stress/practice healthy lifestyle habits – Teach teens to identify stressors and find coping techniques such as exercise or relaxation methods. Assist them in managing screen time and social media use, practicing good sleep hygiene, and healthy eating practices.
  • Build social and emotional skills – Help youth talk about, understand, and express their feelings. Validate their feelings when they do share. Like most of us, teens want to feel seen and heard. Let us listen with an open mind and heart!

Play your part in supporting youth mental health today!


While it is common for youth to experience some emotional distress during adolescence, look for signs that they may need professional support. Call or text 988, reach out for help via chat at, or call 1-800-985-5990 for assistance.

About the Author

Sonia Lopez promotes physical and mental well-being through health education initiatives to reduce health disparities. Sonia enjoys motivating others to adopt healthy lifestyles.