Teenage mental health
What is mental health?
Do you ever feel alone? Do you sometimes feel like you hate yourself?
If you do, you can be sure you are not the only one. Lots of teenagers and adolescents struggle with mental health issues, such as anger and body image, and find escapes through drugs and alcohol.
But just like physical illnesses, mental health issues can get better, and there are things that can be done to help.
When someone says ‘mental health’, they are usually talking about your state of mind.
If your mental health is good, you probably feel confident and capable of dealing with life and other people. If your mental health is not so good, life can seem a lot more difficult and you may feel like you are not coping very well.
Of course, it’s normal to have ups and downs and many people have mental health issues from time to time. But if you feel like life never gets any easier, and there is nothing you can do about it, it’s possible that you could be suffering from a mental illness.
Mental illnesses, such as depression, anxiety and eating disorders, have a bigger impact on how you think and behave than other mental health issues and these illnesses need treatment, just like any other illness.
Common mental health issues for teenagers
Many people your age feel down or upset at times. It’s common to think things like:
- I feel alone
- I hate myself
- I’m being bullied
- I feel angry all the time
- I’m in an abusive relationship
- I’m too fat or skinny
- I think I might be gay or bi
- I drink too much
- I’ve got a drug problem
- I’m being sexually abused
One of the most serious mental health issues you can have is feeling like you want to hurt yourself, or worse, wanting to kill yourself. If you are self-harming or having suicidal thoughts, it’s definitely time to get help - see 'Where to get help' below.
CHECK YOUR SYMPTOMS — Use the Symptom Checker and find out if you need to seek medical help.
How can I improve my mental health?
The good news is that, like most physical illnesses, mental health issues for teenagers and adolescents can be managed or treated. There’s plenty you can do for yourself, and there’s plenty that other people can do to help.
Here are some tips to get you started:
- Eat well.
- Get enough sleep.
- Exercise regularly.
- Find out more about your particular issue — read about it from our information partners or ask an adult you trust.
- If you’re using drugs and alcohol, slow down — these tend to make things worse, not better.
- Learn some relaxation techniques to help you deal with stress.
- Practice mindfulness or meditation.
FIND A HEALTH SERVICE — The Service Finder can help you find doctors, pharmacies, hospitals and other health services.
ASK YOUR DOCTOR — Preparing for an appointment? Use the Question Builder for general tips on what to ask your GP or specialist.
Where to get help
If you need someone to talk to, or want to find out more online, here are some organisations that can help:
- Kids Helpline (telephone and online counselling for ages 5-25) — call 1800 55 1800
- headspace (mental health service for ages 12-25) and eheadspace (online and phone support)
- ReachOut.com (youth mental health service) — online help
- SANE Australia (people living with a mental illness) — call 1800 18 7263
- Lifeline (support for anyone having a personal crisis) — call 13 11 14
- Suicide Call Back Service (anyone thinking about suicide) — call 1300 659 467
- Head to Health - for advice, assessment and referral into local mental health services - call 1800 595 212 from 8:30am to 5pm on weekdays (public holidays excluded)
You can also ask your doctor or a mental health professional for advice or more mental health resources for teenagers and adolescents.
Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.
Last reviewed: October 2021