7 mental health resources for teens in California
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Depression and suicidality are on the rise among teens in California. These trends align with a more significant mental health crisis for youth across the United States. Several national and world crises have played a role in worsening mental health among teens. These issues — climate change, economic pressures, social unrest, and increased screen time and isolation, to name a few — are making real impacts on many teens’ lives. Teens in marginalized groups are more likely to struggle with their mental health. Life challenges and personal traumas almost always come with layers of social complexity.

The need for mental health services has far outpaced access and availability, but there is hope that things can turn around. State agencies are investing large sums to overhaul our mental health infrastructure. Governor Gavin Newsom’s $4.7 billion Master Plan for Kids’ Mental Health is well underway. Last year, $30.5 million in grants was awarded to 63 organizations to provide community-focused and evidence-based support to teens. 

These statistics show the widespread impact of the challenges our teens are facing:

  • In our state alone, more than 284,000 young people are coping with major depression. 
  • Sixty-six percent of kids with depression don’t receive treatment. 
  • Three out of every 20 secondary students seriously considered suicide in the past 12 months.
  • Suicide rates for kids ages 10 to 18 increased 20% between 2019 and 2020.
  • California ranks 28th out of 51 (for all the states and the District of Columbia) in access to care for youth experiencing mental illness.

This article provides an introduction to some of the free support services and resources aimed at supporting teen mental health in California.

7 mental health resources for California teens 

There are four parts to the Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative: workforce training and capacity, behavioral health infrastructure, coverage pathways, and public awareness. Some of these efforts will benefit teens indirectly, for instance, by improving mental health support in schools. Others will increase access to affordable or free mental health treatment. Teens can directly access live coaching via text, support phone lines, interactive modules and digital tools. More on those below.

As outlined in the governor’s plan, grantees ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​must use practices that are based on robust evidence of effectiveness, impact on racial equity, and sustainability. Some of these resources are for teens themselves, and some provide support for family caregivers. 

Here’s a quick look at seven mental health resources providing evidence-based support to teens in California:

  • CalHOPE — Teens can find information about the CalHOPE warmline and download a coaching app for free on their website. Soluna connects teens with free coaching services as well as interactive tools, quizzes, videos, forums and more. CalHOPE also provides staff training and digital wellness tools to promote mental wellness in schools. 
  • The California Health and Human Services Agency (CalHHS)CalHHS is the agency implementing the governor’s Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative. Teens can explore their youth mental health resource hub to find support. There’s information about several specialized help lines and local resources for teens.
  • NAMI California — NAMI California’s Youth Mental Health Guide shares tips for both teens and parents on how to help young people get help sooner. Find national mental health resources, educational materials, advocacy groups and more on their resource page.
  • County of Los Angeles Public Health — If you’re in LA County, you can find local services and resources on the County of LA Public Health website.
  • California Coalition for Youth (CCY) CCY advocates for teens with statewide policy leadership on issues relevant to runaway and homeless youth. They support youth and families directly through the California Youth Crisis Line.
  • Never a Bother — The simple message is that you’re never a bother for asking for support. This campaign provides guidance for people who want to give and receive emotional support with their friends and loved ones. It’s starting conversations that break mental health stigma and help teens feel supported by those who love them.
  • Child Mind Institute — The Positive Parenting, Thriving Kids Project addresses some of the most difficult challenges California teens face today. The Child Mind Institute spoke with California caregivers and teens to create relatable videos on relevant topics. 

Lightfully Teen is here to support your family

Approaching mental health topics with your loved ones can take a lot of courage and vulnerability. At Lightfully, we help parents and teens learn to navigate mental health challenges every day during family therapy sessions. We consider parents and family members to be important members of a teen’s support structure and care team.

Lightfully takes a unique approach to treatment called process-based therapy (PBT). We use the most effective aspects of evidence-based treatments to personalize a unique treatment plan for each client. Our compassionate, licensed clinicians focus on each teen’s present and future. At the same time, we target the drivers behind their mental health symptoms.

If you’re looking for treatment options that are more comprehensive than outpatient therapy, we have three levels of care for you to consider. Our Admissions Concierge Team can help you set up an assessment when you and your teen are ready. 

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