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I Think I Have a Mental Health Problem. Who Can I Talk To?

Medically reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD

If you’re feeling stressed, anxious, angry, or sad, you’re not alone. At times, everyone feels emotions like these. They are a normal part of life.

But sometimes anxiety, sad moods, or stressful thoughts become too intense or happen too often. They may become hard to cope with. This can keep you from doing and feeling your best. When that happens, it might be a sign of a mental health problem that needs care. Or it might be a sign that you are going through a difficult time and need support. Getting help now can prevent things from becoming worse.

Whether you have a mental health problem or you just need support through a tough time, it helps to talk with someone.

In Crisis? Find Help

Who Should I Talk To?

You can talk with a parent. If you can, it’s best to start by talking to a parent. Your parent may already have noticed that you seem stressed or that you’re struggling with something. They might even ask, “What’s wrong?” Or, “What’s going on?” If they ask, take the chance to open up.

But don’t wait for a parent to ask. Sometimes it’s up to you to take the lead. So go ahead — find a good time and share what you’re feeling. Explain what you’re going through. A parent can offer advice, give you support, and help you think things through.

A parent can help you set up a visit with your doctor or a therapist for a check-up. This lets you find out if you have a mental health problem or if something else is going on. You'll be able to learn what can help.

What If I can’t talk with my parent? It’s good when a parent can be there for you, listen calmly to what you need to share, and know how to help you. But not every parent can. Some parents have troubles of their own that make it hard for them to stay calm or help you in the way you need. If there has been a lot of conflict between you and your parent, it can be hard to talk.

If you can’t talk to a parent, or if your parent can’t help, talk with another adult.

For example, you could talk with:

  • a family member, such as a grandparent or another adult relative
  • your school counselor, school nurse, teacher, or coach
  • your doctor or a therapist
  • an adult mentor, youth group leader, or a friend’s parent

Go to an adult you trust. Say you’d like to talk with them about a problem. You can ask them to listen and help you sort things out. You can ask them to help you decide what to do next. And you can ask them to help you set up a visit with a doctor or therapist.

Talk With Your Doctor or a Therapist

Even if you already talked with a parent or another adult, it’s still good to talk with a doctor or therapist. They can ask the right questions and listen. They can identify any mental health problems. They can tell you about treatment and support that will help. They can give you the care you need or refer you to someone else who can help.

Do I Need to Talk With Someone if I’m Just Feeling Stressed?

Sometimes people dismiss stress as if it’s not a big deal. You might think, “Oh, I’m just feeling stressed. It’ll go away.” But stress can pile up, especially if you’re dealing with a challenging situation. And if you’ve been through trauma or adversity, you might try to suppress difficult feelings instead of cope with them. Talking with someone about these things can help you cope — and even prevent a mental health problem.

It’s always best to talk with someone about what you’re going through. When you keep troubles to yourself, things can stay bad or get worse. When you share what you’re going through, it helps you feel closer to the people in your life. And that can be the first step to feeling better.

Medically reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date reviewed: February 2022