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Talking To Adolescents and Teens: Time To Talk

Noticing The Symptoms Starting The Conversation What to Do, Where To Go


When is it time to talk?

It's time to talk to your child/teen about their mental health when...

  • You’ve noticed something just doesn't seem right, but aren't sure why.

  • Your child/teen’s behaviors seem different than others in their peer group.

  • Your child/teen is starting to have difficulties at home, school or with friends.

  • You've noticed some of the signs and symptoms below for more than a week:

Feeling sad, empty, hopeless, or worthless
Sensitivity to sound, sight, smell, or touch
Feeling overly worried
Not being able to do school work
Feeling like your brain is playing tricks on you and hearing knocking or scratching sounds, or your name being called
Loss of interest in things you used to enjoy, or withdrawal from others
Changes in sleep patterns or energy levels
Irritability or restlessness
Problems with concentration, memory or thinking
Loss of appetite or overeating


If you’re still not sure whether you should talk to your child/teen, take the parent screen at

You should seek assistance immediately if you become aware that your child/teen is...

  • Having thoughts or making plans of killing or hurting them self or another person. If your child is showing signs of suicidal or self-injurious thoughts, seek immediate assistance. If you are not present or able to get them right away, ask them calmly to promise you that they will not act on those thoughts until you are with them or can get them help.  It is a well-known phenomenon that most people will honor these “promise contracts” for a defined period of time.

  • Hearing voices or seeing things that no one else can hear or see

  • Experiencing unexplainable changes in thinking, speech, or writing

  • Being overly suspicious or fearful

  • Showing a drastic and sudden decline in school performance

  • Having sudden personality changes that are bizarre or out of character

If your child/teen is in crisis, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255), go to your local Emergency Room or call 911.