When you’re a young person with a mental illness, getting help isn’t always easy. But the earlier you address your mental health needs, the more effective your treatment can be and the sooner you will feel better.
We talked to Jessica, Case Manager on the Youth ACT team, about the importance of early intervention.
Q: What does early intervention mean in terms of youth mental health?
Jessica: Symptoms of mental health can emerge at any age, but for some disorders, adolescence is when symptoms become more apparent. Further, teenage years are full of stress and a lot of changes, so it is common that symptoms can emerge or worsen.
Early intervention means getting help when you first notice symptoms, rather than waiting for them to become unmanageable. On the Youth ACT team, we work with youth who have been struggling to find relief from less intensive treatment options.
Q: Why is early intervention important?
Jessica: Early intervention is important because it gets young people connected with mental health professionals who can help identify what’s going on, help young people understand, and figure out a treatment plan that will work.
Q: What are the risks if young people don’t address their mental health needs?
Jessica: Treatment from mental health professionals isn’t the only way to get help, but it’s likely to make things a lot easier.
By addressing your mental health needs, be it through therapy, medication, or finding natural supports, you can hopefully prevent things from getting worse. Learning how to live and find ways to cope with stressors is an important life skill, and the earlier you start the easier it will be to find ways to integrate healthy coping skills into your daily life, making managing your mental health a natural habit for you.
Q: What are some of the obstacles young people face in getting mental health treatment? What advice would you give to young people with a mental illness who are hesitant to seek treatment?
Jessica: We are lucky to live in 2021, where stigma against mental illness has decreased, but many people may still struggle with bringing up their mental health concerns to friends or family.
If you are under 18, it’s likely you’ll need parental consent, which can make seeking treatment seem even more intimidating for some. Navigating mental health options can seem really confusing and starting therapy can seem really overwhelming.
Further, many people are afraid of the costs associated with therapy, assuming it’s something they can’t afford. Fortunately, therapy may not be as expensive as you think, and there are some free resources in the Twin Cities specifically focused for young people.
If you are struggling with your mental health, it’s important to talk to a trusted adult and ask for their help in navigating treatment options.
Also, therapy isn’t as scary as you may think! Look for therapists that specifically focus on work with young people and try different tools, even if they seem like something you wouldn’t like.
Don’t get disappointed when a coping tool doesn’t work right away—sometimes relief isn’t found after doing something once but creating a habit out of it. Try to find ways to be hopeful even when it’s hard, and make sure to not be too hard on yourself.
Working on your mental health can be tough work, but once you find tools that work for you it will all be worth it.
Guild’s Youth ACT Services
Our Youth Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) services help youth ages 16-20 who are living with a mental illness find success in education, employment, and community living.
Interested in our Youth ACT services? Call our Community Access team at (651) 925-8490 and ask about Youth ACT.