If you happen to have a teenager nearby, there’s a good chance she is using her phone to text message or scroll through her Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter feeds. Teenagers spend much of their lives engaged with their tech devices, and the apps and platforms they use are often the most powerful source of information about their world. But for a young person who has mental health issues like depression, ADHD, and anxiety, social media is not necessarily the best service to locate teen mental health resources.
Instead, many teenagers turn to the Internet for information and tools to help them with psychological difficulties or school-based problems like poor study skills and concentration. Teens are also more likely to use the Internet to try to learn more about coping skills, positive psychology, motivation, resilience, and optimism. While there are some great sites for teens on topics such as sexual identity, substance use concerns, eating disorders, and bullying, there are very few resources that are both informative and engaging to a teenage audience about ADHD, moodiness, self-esteem concerns, learning difficulties, and stress. Unfortunately, most of the websites and apps on these topics are designed for parents or healthcare professionals. Even the most informative sites are overwhelmingly text-heavy and may be out of date. As a result, teenagers with mental health concerns are often lost in their efforts to find information that will help them to learn more about their mental health issues are unlikely to find accessible information that is meaningful to them.
It is unclear as to why there are so few online resources available for teenagers who have mental health issues. There are an increasing number of games and apps that can be helpful to to teens with these issues, but very little available to inform them about and direct them toward these games and apps. This may simply be an issue of money; creating a website that is useful and engaging to teens is an expensive endeavor. Perhaps this means that these types of games, apps, and websites will initially need to be funded by a pharmaceutical company, medical concern, or through government or private grants.
There are some sites that have excellent information for teens, though not always presented in the most engaging method. Here are the sites we have identified so far as the best tween and teen mental health resources:
AddyTeen A good resource for teens with ADHD, with a free downloadable guide. A little lengthy, but full of information.
Canadian ADHD Resource Alliance (CADDRA) One of the better sites for teens and ADHD that answers questions about how ADHD will impact teens in school and with their peers.
PsychCentral Takes a positive psychology bent, with a focus on developing resilience, optimism, and reducing negative thoughts. Many posts on anxiety and stress in teens, though they are aimed more at parents and guardians.
The National Institute of Mental Health’s “The Teen Brain: Still Under Construction” A good download on the teenage brain for teens to read.
Anxiety Disorders Association of Canada Lots of text, but the site is made for teens, with graphics that helps kids understand anxiety.
For additional online resources for improving teens’ mental health, we suggest using the games and apps search tool on LearningWorks for Kids. See our most recent post on this subject, Can Tech Improve the Mental Health of Teens and Tweens? Look for more posts on teens and tweens and mental health in the near future, and watch as we constantly update this list of teen mental health resources.