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Mental health in the mainstream; teens can help themselves and others

The topic of mental health has become widespread, but what does it really mean? What role should teens play in normalizing the conversation or helping others? 

Teenagers especially need to know they can take charge of their well-being. Illinois Extension wants to help them maneuver the complexities of life, the different situations in which they may find themselves, and help them realize their potential in an online summer series called Your Thoughts Matter. 

"Everyone is talking about mental health these days, and teens need to know how it affects all aspects of daily living," says Susan Sloop, Extension educator for 4-H and Youth Development. "They may think they know what mental health means, but it can be misunderstood just like any medical field."

Sloop will be leading the discussions for 13-18-year-olds on June 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, and July 6 from 3:30-4:30 p.m. Registration for the program is free and open from May 9-23 at

Your Thoughts Matter will teach teens definitions of common mental health disorders, the impact of mental health experiences, ways to help others, and resources available in their community.

This program is not a resource for those in crisis. If you or someone you know is struggling with a mental health issue, please seek adult or professional help immediately.

University of Illinois Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment. If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate, contact Sloop at