A Mental Health Hotline Students Can Turn To
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that mental health issues among young people have been increasing in recent years. In fact, one in six young people indicated that they had planned to commit suicide in 2019. This jarring statistic demonstrates the dire need for better and more plentiful health resources that are accessible to teenagers and children.
Understanding the Breadth of Mental Health Issues in Young People
Some people fail to recognize how serious of an issue mental health is. Some adults, both parents, and teachers may scoff at the need for expanded mental health services for young people. An essential first step in addressing the mental health crisis in young people is acknowledging that a severe problem exists.
Types of Mental Health Issues
Numerous mental health issues exist. However, according to the CDC, the most common mental health issues in children are:
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Behavior problems
Keep in mind that many young people suffer from more than one disorder.
Causes of Mental Health Issues
Understand that mental health issues are more than the result of a simple chemical imbalances in the brain. While brain chemistry can play a role in mental health issues, other causes exist as well.
For example, 4.1% of youths 12 to 17 were reported as having a substance use disorder in 2019. The abuse of drugs or alcohol can lead to mental health issues. Also, some young people will turn to alcohol or drugs as a way to cope with these issues, further damaging their mental health.
Mental health issues can also result from stress. Some children are pushed into too many activities when they are young. Some college students are enrolled in too many classes while also having to work to afford high tuition rates. In other cases, young people are victims of domestic abuse or violence. Other children grow up in negligent homes. Understanding the acutely serious situations and circumstances that can lead to mental health issues in young people underscores the need for resolution.
Effects of Mental Health Issues
Struggling with mental health can have grave consequences for children and teenagers. In 2019, 8.9% of young people between the ages of 12 and 17 reported attempted suicide. Other effects of mental health issues could involve problems with relationships, school, or social situations.
Recognizing the Need for a Mental Health Hotline
One powerful way to address the struggles that teenagers and children are facing with mental health is through the existence of a hotline. Providing a phone number that teenagers can call has a number of benefits.
The Ability to Speak without Judgment
Some young people are afraid to talk to the adults in their lives about mental health because of the judgment faced in the past. For example, some young people have had their mental health issues diminished and dismissed by parents and teachers. Adults also sometimes speak about mental health issues in a negative way, even if those comments are not directly addressed to their children. Parents might make false statements about how mental health issues are indicative of emotional weakness. Children can internalize these attitudes and then fear talking about their own struggles. A mental health hotline provides young people with a way to express their thoughts without judgment.
A mental health hotline can help young people who want to start talking about their problems and who are in need of direction as to where to go in terms of community resources. However, this type of hotline can also intervene in crisis situations. For example, if teenagers call the hotline and say that they are considering attempting suicide, hotline staff members are trained in how to respond and how to work toward getting the young people the help that they need.
In other situations, young people will call the hotline because they want to start talking to a therapist or they want to get involved with mentally healthy activities in their communities. Knowing where to start can be overwhelming and complicated. The specialists affiliated with the mental health hotline can connect young people with local resources.
The Ability to Talk
Many people are simply craving the ability to talk to another person about their struggles. Talking about difficulties can be immensely powerful. Conversations with another person can help students to identify sources of stress. Also, keeping negative emotions bottled up inside can be jarring. Simply sharing these struggles with other people helps students to feel as though they are not alone.
Understanding Student Struggles
Calling a mental health hotline dedicated explicitly to students connects young people with representatives who understand what they are going through. Students have specific struggles that can contribute to mental health issues. School alone can be stressful, particularly when young people are navigating an entirely new learning environment, such as college. Representatives at the call center also recognize other issues that young people may be facing, such as pressure from friends to try alcohol or drugs or how to navigate dating. In short, students have specific situations going on in their lives that older adults may not understand.
Encouraging the Use of Support Groups
Mental health professionals are aware that all mental health issues are not the same. A mental health hotline can put students in touch with support groups. In other words, students can join communities of people who are going through similar situations. For example, young people who are dealing with depression can be connected with other youths who are also struggling with depression.
Helping With Substance Abuse Issues
Calling a mental health hotline for students is also a powerful way to start dealing with substance abuse issues. In 2019, more than 139 million Americans 12 and olderdrank alcohol in the previous month. From 2013 to 2015, the average age when 12-to-20-year-olds in the United States took their first alcoholic drink was reported to be 14.64 years. While not everyone develops a substance use problem, whether with alcohol or another drug, young people sometimes engage in dangerous behaviors when it comes to these substances. Youths can also feel pressured by their peers to drink too much, take illegal drugs, or engage in other risky behaviors. The professionals affiliated with the mental health hotline can talk with young people about the types of treatment available.
Connecting With Other People
As providers of a confidential resource, the professionals whom you call cannot share information about other clients or callers. However, you can still form powerful connections with other people as a result of making this call. One way to do so is by participating in a group that the mental health hotline recommends. Also, the representative may be able to provide you with resources, such as blogs, where you can read about and potentially interact with other young people who are going through experiences that are similar to yours.
Medically Supervised Withdrawal
In some situations, mental health experts may recommend that young people start recovering from addiction by undergoing medically supervised withdrawal. When people’s bodies become addicted to substances, symptoms of withdrawal, some of them serious, can occur. Medically supervised withdrawal is often advised as a way to help deal with side effects such as vomiting, high blood pressure, and hallucinations. Young people suffering from addiction can receive physical assistance and emotional support for the effects of withdrawal.
Inpatient Treatment Programs
Staff members can also speak with students about inpatient treatment programs. Inpatient programs specifically designed for young people exist. Living away from home while undergoing rehab for a drug or alcohol addiction can feel overwhelming. However, the time and space away from regular settings are often powerful in recovery. Young people might be able to enroll in programs that are suited to their hobbies and interests. For example, art and music therapy can help clients to navigate issues with substance abuse. Young people who are interested in art can choose one of these programs as a way to nourish both their bodies and minds.
Outpatient Treatment Programs
Going to inpatient treatment isn’t necessary or possible for every individual. Students can also get connected with outpatient treatment programs in their community. By making the call to the mental health hotline, young people can also learn about ways to protect their privacy when attending outpatient programs and what type of information must be shared with parents or guardians.
Helping Other Individuals
Many people who call a mental health hotline for students are young people themselves looking for support. However, you can also be a powerful source of support for another person. You might be a parent who is concerned about your child. You might have a friend about whom you are worried. You can call the hotline to speak with a representative about these concerns and learn how you can help.
How to Get Started
By calling the mental health hotline, you can get the help that you need, or you can take the first steps toward helping a person you care about.
Know You Can Speak
You might worry about what you should say when you call the mental health hotline for students. However, you do not need to plan out precisely what you are going to say. It is okay if you don’t know what to say. All you have to do is call the number and articulate that you are in need of help. The representatives will know what types of questions to ask from there.
Recognize that the Representatives Care
If you’ve been told or made to feel by parents and teachers that your mental health problems don’t matter, recognize that the representatives answering the hotline telephones care. Also, these individuals can help you to see that there are reliable and caring parents and teachers in your life. Opening up about mental health issues can be the first step in building these stronger bonds.
Aim to Find a Quiet Time to Call
In the midst of chaos, finding a quiet time to make a phone call can be difficult. If you can’t find that quiet time, it’s OK. If you can, however, try to make the call when you have the time to speak and when you’ll be free from interruptions and distractions. Remember that your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Just as you would book an appointment to see a physician at a time when your schedule is open, give the same space to your mental health.
Seek to be Open
When you speak with a representative on the phone, this individual might eventually suggest that you consider speaking with a counselor at your school, scheduling an appointment with a therapist, or talking to your parents about going to a treatment program for an alcohol or drug addiction. These suggestions can seem scary and overwhelming at first. Consider how much better you can feel, though, when you make real changes in terms of addressing your mental health. The representatives are speaking from a place of experience and offering authentic suggestions that have helped other young people who are like you.
If you dial the number and then hang up, or if you can’t get up the courage to dial, try again. Nervousness is normal. Keep trying until you stay on the phone and connect with a representative.
The National Mental Health Hotline is a powerful resource that can change your life. Whether you’re a young person who is struggling with mental health or you desperately want to help a loved one, the representatives are here to assist. The first step is to make the phone call and get connected with a robust array of resources tailored to your needs.