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Black History Month is a time to deepen the spotlight on the enormous impact Black Americans have on our nation.

It’s a time of celebration, pride, resilience – and how this can uplift the mental health of Black youth.

A recent study showed 76% of Black folks feel race is a huge part of their identity. And having a sense of ethnic pride may be as important as self-esteem to the mental wellbeing of Black youth specifically.

Part of our Black History Month celebrations are to shine a spotlight on the champions from the past and present.

And we start with our very own Head In The Game Collaborators – Joe Barksdale and Kayla McBride – who are brave mental health advocates and champions of positive change for Black teens and those who identify as LGBTQIA+.

Kayla McBride – What Does Black History Month Mean To You?

WNBA All-Star and Minnesota Lynx guard, Kayla McBride is a force to be reckoned with in the world of women’s basketball. Kayla’s impact and legacy extend beyond the court, through her advocacy for youth mental health, raising the profile of Black women in sport, and her dedication to help others.

Kayla shares what Black History Month means to her:

“It’s so important as Black women that we continue to take the time to celebrate ourselves. To be able to share our stories and inspire the next generation – that’s what it’s all about. It’s an amazing feeling to be able to know your a part of something and where your family comes from.”

Find out more about what Black History Month means to Kayla, who were her role models growing up, and who her African American Sporting Heroes are. 👇🏿

Joe Barksdale – What Does Black History Month Mean To You?

Joe Barksdale, former NFL offensive tackle turned comedian and musician, is a courageous individual who decided to share his experiences with depression, anxiety, and autism, to help break down the pervasive stigma surrounding these issues, especially within the Black community.

Joe shared that he’s a firm believer in:

“You can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been.”

Joe sees Black History Month as a time to reflect on what Black people in the US have had to go through in order to get to where we are today.

Joe shares his passion for African American arts influencers and how they have influenced his life as a creative artist in comedy and music.

Find out more about what Black History Month means to Joe and which Black artists have had a positive impact on his life so far. 👇🏿


Disclaimer: This website offers general information and is not a substitute for professional advice. We are not clinicians or trained professionals; this information should not replace seeking help from a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult a healthcare provider for personalized guidance.

Recommended Resources

Art has long served as a powerful vehicle for self-expression in the Black community. And studies show making art lights up the brain’s reward center, cuts stress and anxiety, and boosts your overall vibe.

This Black History Month gives us the chance to celebrate both with a spotlight on the impact Black Americans have left on the arts community and highlight how creative expression can uplift our spirits and help heal trauma.

First let’s talk about how helpful art can be for your mental wellbeing. Research shows engaging in art can trigger a cascade of positive effects in our brains. It’s like a natural stress-reliever, it’s known to reduce anxiety levels and can help in improving our mood.

Art can also help us process or feel more in control of difficult situations by working through them by creating.

As the legendary black poet Maya Angelou wrote, “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”

As Angelou wrote, no matter what hardships we face, we have the power to lift ourselves up through art rather than be weighed down.

And that means everyone. You don’t have to be a Basquiat, Toni Morrison or Nina Simone to reap the mental health perks of art. Whether you’re a renowned painter, an amateur phone photographer, or someone who just likes belting Beyoncé hits in the shower, creative acts let our inner light shine through and can help you turn your pain or frustrations into power.

Baltimore artist Larry “Poncho” Brown spoke of how one of his pieces of art was inspired by a resilience amid a devastating fire at his studio and symbolized the strength to address mental health challenges. Brown, a full-time artist, said that his art in many ways gives him more therapy in a day than most people get in a lifetime.

“I’m blessed to have found art as a place of reflection, a place of peace. It’s another space you can go to in order to release tension.”

Larry “Poncho” Brown

The importance of Black artists and Black art

In naming the theme for Black History Month as a celebration of the arts, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, recognized how “African American artists have used art to preserve history and community memory as well as for empowerment.”

“For centuries Western intellectuals denied or minimized the contributions of people of African descent to the arts as well as history, even as their artistry in many genres was mimicked and/or stolen.

However, we can still see the unbroken chain of Black art production from antiquity to the present, from Egypt across Africa, from Europe to the New World. Prior to the American Revolution, enslaved Africans of the Lowcountry began their more than a 300-year tradition of making sweetgrass baskets, revealing their visual artistry via craft.”

ASALH

It is true that art is storytelling in its own way and can leave a legacy behind. It can also inspire your mood, connect you to your culture and remind of you of the progress that has been made.

Below, we want to share with you a list of some of the artists being explicitly celebrated by this theme and invite you to explore their music, paintings, poetry and cinema to inspire you. We’ll share links to some of their best-known works.

Get inspired and then we’ll give you some suggestions for how you can use art to help your own wellbeing.

Blues Musicians

Robert Johnson, McKinley ‘Muddy Waters’ Morganfield, and Riley “BB” B. King: Listen to these Influential blues musicians known for pioneering a style of music that laid the foundation for gospel, soul, and other genres.

Literary Figures

Phillis Wheatley: A poet whose works made her one of the earliest African American authors.

David Walker and Maria Stewart: Writers known for their essays, autobiographies, and
novels, contributing to black literature.

Visual Artists

Edmonia Lewis: A sculptor known for her neoclassical works.

Henry O. Tanner: A prominent painter who gained recognition for his depictions of religious and biblical subjects.

Black Movement Artists

James Reese Europe: An influential musician and bandleader.

Langston Hughes: A renowned poet, novelist, and playwright.

Josephine Baker: An iconic dancer and entertainer.

Lois Mailou Jones: An accomplished painter known for her contributions to the Harlem Renaissance.

Alvin Ailey: A choreographer and dancer who founded the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

Judith Jamison: A prominent dancer and choreographer.

Amiri Baraka: A writer, playwright, and poet who played a key role in the Black Arts Movement.

Nikki Giovanni and Sonia Sanchez: Noted poets and writers associated with the movement.

Hip-Hop Pioneers

DJ Kool Herc and Coke La Rock: Pioneers of hip-hop music, originating in the Bronx in 1973.

Afrofuturism Artists

Sun Ra, Rashan Roland Kirk, Janelle Monáe, and Jimi Hendrix: Musicians whose work incorporates elements of Afrofuturism.

Octavia Butler: A renowned sci-fi writer known for her Afrofuturist novels.

Lina Iris Viktor, Wangechi Mutu, Nalo Hopkinson, and Grace Jones: Visual artists and writers who have explored Afrofu turist themes in their work.

Image by pikisuperstar on Freepik

Artistic ideas for you

Now that you’ve gotten a taste of those who have come before you, think of some of your own favorite black artists. What do you love about how they express themselves? Is there something about their work you’d like to try?

Remember part of the joy of art is simply in creating and doesn’t have to do with “how good” the end result is. The journey and creativity are just as much part of the process of helping boost your mood.

Try your hand at some of these art activities that can help bring your stress levels down. Think about if you can make any of these themed for Black History Month too. Maybe create a playlist of your favorite black artists.

No matter what, the key is to keep it simple. Try one of these. Think of how you feel before you start. When you’re done, notice if you feel any different.


Disclaimer: This website offers general information and is not a substitute for professional advice. We are not clinicians or trained professionals; this information should not replace seeking help from a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult a healthcare provider for personalized guidance.

Image by pikisuperstar on Freepik.

Recommended Resources

Black History Month stands as a symbol of Black pride and resilience. But it also casts light on another narrative running through the experience of Black Americans – one of deep-seated adversity due to systemic racism.

We take the time this month to reflect on the achievements and success of Black Americans and to honor those who paved the way for tremendous success for other black people who came after them. But to speak truth to the full experience of Black Americans, we must also reflect on the real gaps in equity faced by the Black community. That’s particularly true with regards to health and mental health.

“These disparities have been exacerbated by the uneven impacts of the COVID-pandemic, ongoing racism and discrimination, and police violence against and killings of Black people,” according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. “Moreover, the long history of inequitable health outcomes among Black people reflects the abuses faced during slavery, segregation, mass incarceration and their persistent legacies.”

Despite progress, the impact of historical injustices – from slavery to segregation, and the ongoing battle with racism – continues to affect the lives and mental wellbeing of Black Americans.

“America is supposed to be the land of the free and the home of the brave, but I don’t feel free, nor do I feel protected during these unprecedented times. I have two boys, and whenever they go out to the store, to meet a friend, etc., I worry and wonder what’s going to happen to them because of their race.”

Valerie Sterns, Mental Health America

The Weight of Inequality

Data reveals a harsh truth: Black individuals encounter more significant barriers to healthcare.

That issue was highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic when Black people faced a disproportionately higher risk of hospitalization and death compared to their White counterparts. Moreover, those effects of COVID-19 may lead to widening disparities in health going forward, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Yale Child Study Center says that repercussions of racism begin even before birth.

“The stress of racism experienced by Black mothers has been linked to low birthweight babies, which puts those children at greater risk for developing depression and other child mental health issues.”

These disparities serve as a grim reminder of the broader societal inequities that have persisted for generations. Which is why this Black History Month we want to lay out some statistics in hopes of sparking a conversation about how important it is to close the gap.

These numbers may hit close to home. We hope that that these numbers will also show you that you are not alone.

Based on evidence from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office of Minority Health:

While much of what needs to happen to fix these gaps may be at an institutional level, remember there is an impact you and your family can have in your own community.

It might look like having a conversation with a friend, family member or trusted adult about how you’re feeling. Or maybe checking on a friend you’re worried about. If you’re not sure where to start, that’s okay too. Check some of our other resources to help you get thinking about your mental wellbeing.

It’s important to know having these conversations isn’t just about mental wellbeing — it may also be crucial to your overall health.

“Chronic exposure to the stress of racism and discrimination is linked to rapid biological aging and poorer health outcomes for Black people,” according to Nature Mental Health. “This exposure to police violence has been found to have negative mental health outcomes for Black people. Black youth have also been disproportionately affected by gun violence, which can adversely affect the mental health and well-being of children.”

Keanan Joyner, an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, leads a research lab that focuses on the causes of drug and alcohol abuse and behavioral disorders, particularly among minority and low-income groups.

“As Black people across the country try to cope with the consequences of the legacy of systemic racism that continues to affect them and their loved ones, we’re constantly bombarded with reminders of the broken world we live in. Black people everywhere learn to live with the continual challenge of living in a country not designed for their thriving. The toll on Black mental health is substantial.”

Keanan Joyner, an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley
Image by Freepik

How Historical Inequities Echo for Black Teens Today

Understanding how we got here is vital. Dr. Barbara Robles-Ramamurthy, an expert in child psychiatry, offers insight into the lasting effects of racism that begin to affect Black children’s self-perception and mental health at a very young age. She explains that the relentless wave of racism can lead Black children to question their self-worth, their beauty, and their place in the world.

“Internalized racism — the beliefs and value systems affected by racism that guide our everyday behavior — is so pervasive that at a very young age, Black children begin to question their beauty, strength, and sense of belonging,” Robles-Ramamurthy says. “This is not because Black children are inherently different but because of how other people and systems treat them.”

Robles-Ramamurthy doesn’t stop there. She points out that the impact of racist policies, like segregated schools and neighborhoods, have long-lasting consequences that continue to marginalize and harm Black communities.

The Civil Rights movement and school desegregation may appear to be history, especially when we discuss them during Black History Month, but the repercussions are still very much felt today, Robles-Ramamurthy says.

“Even though decades have passed since the Civil Rights movement and school desegregation, we know that our actions have not been sufficient to undo the harms created by racist policies that still harm many communities.”

Dr. Barbara Robles-Ramamurthy, an expert in child psychiatry

What you can do

Let’s keep it real: the stuff we’ve talked about is heavy. But it’s also reality. And sometimes the weight of it might feel like carrying around extra weight.

But guess what? We’ve got the tools to lighten that load. It’s not just about knowing what’s up with the past and how it’s still impacting with the present. It’s also about how each generation can step forward and make mental health and wellbeing a focus.

First, check out some of our favorite mental health gems for teens your age. We’ve also got a deep dive on the state of mental health for black teens like you that includes some tips about how you can help manage your feelings.

We also encourage you to check some great organizations working specifically on mental health for black teens. Like Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective (BEAM) and The Steve Fund. You can find info about them and lots more organizations providing culturally sensitive mental health resources for black youth by checking out our ‘Mental Health Support for Black Teens‘ resource.


Disclaimer: This website offers general information and is not a substitute for professional advice. We are not clinicians or trained professionals; this information should not replace seeking help from a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult a healthcare provider for personalized guidance.

Image by Freepik

Recommended Resources

Data reveals a harsh truth. That Black youth have a higher risk for mental health disorders like depression and anxiety, and only half access mental health care compared to their non-Black peers.

More research on the topic is needed to help bring the best solutions to the Black community.

You may feel the weight of inequality is a heavy burden to hold. We hear you and we see you. And we are here to offer some hope.

We start with highlighting organizations and support services that are created to support the Black community. Each one has tools to lighten that load and help you step forward and make mental wellbeing a priority.

You deserve to live a fulfilled life. Choose You.

Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective (BEAM)

This supportive and culturally sensitive resource hub is a safe space for healing and discussion. Their work focuses on healing justice and how holistically we can respond to generational trauma and violence.

BEAM has great wellness tools like affirmations, tips for grounding and journal prompts.

What We Love:

BEAM’s “Black Healing Remixed” podcast, which discusses healing, black joy and a place where “ancestral wisdom meets today’s modern complexities.”

Black Virtual Wellness Directory – find a virtual Black therapist, mediator and more by State.

Heart Space – a monthly, online and in-person healing circle and emotional skills building space for Black people looking to learn and grow in their own healing.

The Steve Fund

A hub for young people of color mental health. They team up with experts and youth to boost mental wellbeing understanding and support. Dive into their knowledge center – a wealth of articles, expert insights and practical tips covering a broad range of mental health topics.

Text STEVE to 74141 to access a culturally trained Crisis Text line counselor.

What We Love:

Guided conversation for parents – addressing a racially charged encounter.

Breaking the Silence Series – free courses designed mental health experts on mental health disorders like anxiety and depression.

Interventions to building inclusive college campuses to promote mental health.

NFL player Solomon Thomas talking about how it’s OK to not be OK:

AAKOMA Project

The AAKOMA (African American Knowledge Optimized for Mindfully-Healthy Adolescents) Project is a charity helping to advance the mental health of young people of color and their families. They provide tailored tools, educational programs, and resources.

What We Love:

5 free virtual therapy sessions with culturally competent provides nationwide for patients 12 – 30 years old.

Social media tips for teens and parents.

Supporting black students’ wellness amid mounting challenges.

Black Girls Smile

This initiative designed to champion the mental health of black women and girls puts mental wellness as a vital component of overall health. Black Girls Smile offers a wealth of resources and support. This includes educational programs, workshops, and community outreach events aimed at promoting mental health awareness and reducing the stigma surrounding mental health.

Image by pikisuperstar on Freepik

What We Love:

Their Affirmation Cards you can download as part of their Mental Wellness Toolkit.

Their self-paced online courses, like Creating and Incorporating Healthy Daily Habits for young Black women aged 13-18.

7Cups: Young People of Color Community

The Young People of Color Community on 7Cups connects you to caring listeners and counsellors for free emotional support. Explore self help guides, confidential online therapy and free 24/7 chat supported by The Steve Fund.

What We Love:

You can filter by topic including ‘Celebrating Persons of Color’ and ‘Mental Health as a POC.’

Uplifting content that is hopeful and supportive.

An easy to use forum that’s informal and encourages you to engage with others in the community.

Therapy For Black Girls

An online space dedicated to encouraging the mental wellbeing of Black women and girls. Dr. Joy Harden Bradford a licensed psychologist, hosts and speaks on the popular podcast ‘Therapy for Black Girls,’ making mental health topics more relevant and accessible for Black women.

What We Love:

The Therapy for Black Girls Podcast chat weekly about all things mental health and personal development. Previous episodes include ‘Environmental Justice 101’ and ‘Examining Your Relationship With Social Media.’

Their blog including stories and resources like ‘Soul Warming Black Christmas Movies (New and Old)’ and ‘4 Lessons on Grief We Can Learn from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

The Safe Place App

An app for young people 13+ with a focus on strengthening mental health and geared towards the Black community. Providing knowledge and exercises that can help the body, emotions and thoughts to calm down in the moment. Free to use by anyone with a smartphone and available on the App Store and Google play.

What We Love:

Inspirational Black quotes.

Self care tips including ‘How to Cope After Police Brutality’ and ‘How to talk to Black family members who may not want to understand mental illness.’

To explore more mental health resources tailored for Black youth, why not check out:

Black Teen’s Guide to Mental Health.

How Black teens can help their mental wellbeing by celebrating Black History Month.

Or stories from Serena Williams and LeBron James – Black athletes breaking barriers and embracing mental health.


Disclaimer: This website offers general information and is not a substitute for professional advice. We are not clinicians or trained professionals; this information should not replace seeking help from a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult a healthcare provider for personalized guidance.

Image by Freepik

Recommended Resources

Every February, we get a chance to celebrate Black History Month—a time to deepen the spotlight on the massive impact Black Americans have on our nation.

But it’s more than just a history deep-dive. It’s about lifting the Black community, connecting with each other, and celebrating champions from the past and present.

A recent poll showed that 76% of Black folks feel race is a huge part of their identity. And having a sense of ethnic pride may be as important as self-esteem to the mental health of Black youth specifically, according to one study.

Which is why we like to think that taking part in Black History Month can be an unexpected way for Black teens to boost your mental health. Think about it: seeing success stories of other Black Americans, both from history and today, isn’t just empowering; it makes us believe that success is possible for us too. We become proud of those achievements, of each other, of the community. And that sense of connection and pride? That can boost your mood!

Black History Month also has the power to transform perceptions — it’s a time to learn the stories of known and unknown Black scientists, artists, and thinkers who have been integral to the shaping of American and global history.

‘Honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans’

Black History Month was officially established in 1976 by President Gerald Ford who asked Americans to use the month in order “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

The monthlong celebration evolved out of “Negro History Week,” which noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans started. Woodson, the second African American to earn a PhD from Harvard, understood the power of education and the dangers of exclusion. Woodson understood history is about the past – but also how the present will impact the future – and sought to focus on the achievements of African Americans.

Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history.

Carter G. Woodson

Woodson chose the second week of February because of the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, American symbols of freedom, according to Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH).

Douglass, an abolitionist who overcame the traumas of enslavement, embodied the principles of education and leadership, advocating tirelessly for the freedom and progress of Black people.

By the late 1960s, fueled by the Civil Rights Movement and an increased embrace of Black identity, “Negro History Week” expanded into Black History Month across numerous college campuses.

In classrooms around the country, teachers and classes would spotlight the lives and contributions of many Black Americans, including activists and civil rights pioneers like Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and Rosa Parks.

A reflection on struggles and successes

The annual observance of Black History Month serves also serves a reflection point of past struggles and efforts to form a more inclusive historical narrative of America.

While there is often focus on the history of slavery and the civil rights movement, there has been growing pushes to use the time to dig deeper into the continuing systematic injustices that exist within various parts of American institutions today.

Those issues are often reflected in the themes chosen for each’s year celebration. Past themes have explored Black resistance, voting rights, educational challenges, and the inequity of health systems and mental health care in America.

This year the ASALH chose to highlight the African American influence on the arts.

For centuries Western intellectuals denied or minimized the contributions of people of African descent to the arts as well as history, even as their artistry in many genres was mimicked and/or stolen.

However, we can still see the unbroken chain of Black art production from antiquity to the present, from Egypt across Africa, from Europe to the New World. Prior to the American Revolution, enslaved Africans of the Lowcountry began their more than a 300-year tradition of making sweetgrass baskets, revealing their visual artistry via craft.

ASALH

How you can celebrate Black History Month

So, what can you do to get into this year’s spirit of Black History Month? A lot!

You can always come up with your own ideas, remember, it’s all about celebrating the culture, the people, and the progress.

And that includes you. Celebrate where you come from, how far you’ve come and let the great Black American artists remind you to carry the spirit of this month with you all year round.

Because history isn’t just about the past; it’s about the trail you’re blazing right now. That’s right, young kings and queens, this a reminder you’re walking in the footsteps of greatness, and now is your time to add to it!


Disclaimer: This website offers general information and is not a substitute for professional advice. We are not clinicians or trained professionals; this information should not replace seeking help from a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult a healthcare provider for personalized guidance.

Image credit: by Freepik

Recommended Resources

Mental health challenges can show up in lots of different ways among young people. For example, certain situations can make someone feel anxious, while others might feel stress. You are unique and so are your experiences, and it’s important to understand and respect that.

However, there are certain patterns that can be similar from person to person. Knowing these can help you to understand what you might be going through which may lead to better, more focused help.

We dive into some mental health challenges, such as Attention Deficit Disorder.

What Is Attention Deficit Disorder?

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (also called ADHD) is one of the most common mental disorders affecting children (American Psychiatric Association). While it can be diagnosed at any age, ADHD starts in childhood. In the US, there are currently 5.5 million people with ADHD (Our World in Data).

ADHD is a chronic and debilitating disorder and affects the individual in many areas of their life, like education, work, relationships with others and daily functioning. In children it can lead to poor self-esteem and social function if it’s not treated.

In teens symptoms vary by gender, type of ADHD, the environment they are in, and if they have any other disorders. Without help, teens with ADHD tend to have lower grades and higher rates of challenges at school and may struggle with friendships or managing emotions.

Symptoms Of ADHD In Young People

Warning signs and symptoms include:

More boys than girls are diagnosed with ADHD (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and symptoms can differ. Girls may lean toward less noticeable inattentive symptoms than to obvious hyperactive symptoms, therefore ADHD is sometimes overlooked in girls.

What To Do If You Are Worried If You Have ADHD

You can’t diagnose ADHD on your own. A trained health professional will evaluate specific symptoms. It’s important to note that other conditions can mimic ADHD such as learning disorders, mood disorders, anxiety, substance use, and head injuries. So it’s important to seek specialist help.

If you are worried about whether you have ADHD, it’s important to know that effective treatments are available to manage the symptoms. Treatment varies between people, but in most cases, medicine is paired with behavior therapy.

Do not be afraid to seek help, it will help you find better ways to cope with your emotions and improve your wellbeing.

If you don’t know where to start, we’ve gathered some trusted, free, 24/7 national text and helplines:

Or if you’re looking for mental health services and treatment programs in your specific state, The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides the Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator online tool.

Additional Resources And Support On ADHD

National Institute of Mental Health’s resource on ‘Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in Children and Teens: What You Need to Know,’ as well as a download in Spanish.

CHADD’s resource on ‘Parenting Teens with ADHD.’

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has comprehensive information on ADHD, including on treatment, state information, and materials and multimedia such as infographics, videos and podcasts.


Disclaimer: This website offers general information and is not a substitute for professional advice. We are not clinicians or trained professionals; this information should not replace seeking help from a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult a healthcare provider for personalized guidance.

Recommended Resources

Mental health challenges can show up in lots of different ways among young people. For example, certain situations can make someone feel anxious, while others might feel stress. You are unique and so are your experiences, and it’s important to understand and respect that.

However, there are certain patterns that can be similar from person to person. Knowing these can help you to understand what you might be going through which may lead to better, more focused help.

We dive into some mental health challenges, such as self-harm.

What Is Self-Harm?

Self-harm or self-injury is hurting yourself on purpose. It is also called non suicidal self-injury, self-injury and self-directed violence. Self-Harm is not a mental illness, but a behaviour that indicates a need for better coping skills. Thinking about causing yourself harm – or actually hurting yourself – is a sign of emotional distress. Any time a person hurts themselves on purpose it is classified as self-harm.

Self-harm is an extremely serious issue that some young people face. It tens to begin in teen or early adult years. According to one study, known rates of self-harm are between 7-24% in adolescents, and 9th grade girls seem most at risk as they engage in self-harm at 3 times the rate of boys.

Even though it is not a healthy or effective solution, people might self-harm because they feel like it is their only way to control or relieve overwhelming emotions or feelings. Some people do it because they want to change the emotional pain that they are having into physical pain.

If you or someone you know is struggling or having thoughts of suicide, call or text 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 or chat at 988lifeline.org. In life-threatening situations, call 911.

Signs And Symptoms Of Self-Harm

Ways in which someone can self-harm include:

Warning signs and symptoms of self-harm include:

What To Do If You Or Someone You Know Is Self-Harming

If you or someone you know is developing self-harming habits:

Even though you might feel a certain, temporary, relief after self-harm, it is not a long-term solution. Do not be afraid to seek help, it will help you find better ways to cope with your emotions and improve your wellbeing.

If you don’t know where to start, we’ve gathered some trusted, free, 24/7 national text and helplines:

Additional Resources And Support On Self-Harm

National Alliance on Mental Illness explainer on Self-Harm.

Mental Health America have a resource on ‘Helpful vs Harmful: Ways to Manage Emotions.’

Check out our resource on ‘Self-Care: What is it and Why is it Important for your Mental Health,’ or ‘How to Cope with Big Issues at Home and Beyond as a Teen.’


Disclaimer: This website offers general information and is not a substitute for professional advice. We are not clinicians or trained professionals; this information should not replace seeking help from a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult a healthcare provider for personalized guidance.

Recommended Resources

Mental health challenges can show up in lots of different ways among young people. For example, certain situations can make someone feel anxious, while others might feel stress. You are unique and so are your experiences, and it’s important to understand and respect that.

However, there are certain patterns that can be similar from person to person. Knowing these can help you to understand what you might be going through which may lead to better, more focused help.

We dive into some of the more common mental health challenges, such as panic disorder.

What Is Panic Disorder?

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) defines panic disorder as:

Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder characterized by unexpected and repeated episodes of intense fear accompanied by physical symptoms that may include chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, or abdominal distress. These episodes occur “out of the blue,” not in conjunction with a known fear or stressor.

According to NIMH an estimated 2.3% of 13-18 year-old Americans had panic disorder. And panic disorder often begins in the late teens to early adulthood, with women more likely than men to develop it. People with panic disorder have regular and unexpected panic attacks.

A panic attack is a sudden period of intense fear, discomfort, or sense of losing control even when there is no clear danger or trigger. But not everyone who experiences a panic attack will develop panic disorder.

Today’s young people face monumental challenges at home and abroad, it’s OK to feel overwhelmed by it all. Why not focus on the things you can control and strengthen your mental resilience? Below we share some tips to get you started.

How Panic Disorder Can Make You Feel

Panic attacks can occur as frequently as several times a day or as rarely as a few times a year. During a panic attack, a person may experience:

People with panic disorder may have:

An untreated panic disorder can affect your quality of life and lead to difficulties at work or school. The good news is panic disorder is treatable.

If you or someone you know is struggling or having thoughts of suicide, call or text 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 or chat at 988lifeline.org. In life-threatening situations, call 911.

Tips To Help You Manage Panic Disorder And Panic Attacks

The first step to prevent or reduce the effect of panic attacks is understanding what they are – so you’re in the right place to learn more! Here’s some tips on how to deal with a panic attack if you or someone you know is experiencing one:

Additional Resources And Support On Panic Disorder

NIMH have a resource on ‘How can I support myself and others with panic disorder?

Anxiety and Depression Association of America have a range of panic disorder resources, including ‘4 Tips on Managing Your Panic‘ and ‘Outsmart Your Anxious Brain.’


Disclaimer: This website offers general information and is not a substitute for professional advice. We are not clinicians or trained professionals; this information should not replace seeking help from a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult a healthcare provider for personalized guidance.

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Mental health challenges can show up in lots of different ways among young people. For example, certain situations can make someone feel anxious, while others might feel stress. You are unique and so are your experiences, and it’s important to understand and respect that.

However, there are certain patterns that can be similar from person to person. Knowing these can help you to understand what you might be going through which may lead to better, more focused help.

We dive into some of the more common mental health challenges, such as stress.

What Is Stress?

The American Psychiatric Association defines stress as:

Stress is a normal reaction to everyday pressures, but can become unhealthy when it upsets your day-to-day functioning. Stress involves changes affecting nearly every system of the body, influencing how people feel and behave.

We all at some point in our lives experience stress. It is a very common feeling you get when you are overwhelmed, and your brain and your mind start feeling like you are unable to cope with so many things.

At times, stress can be good for you because it can help you complete tasks that need to be done soon. However, a large amount of stress for a prolonged period of time can affect your mental wellbeing.

While the national public health emergency around COVID-19 ended on May 11, 2023, results from a recent study show that the pandemic is still weighing on people. This paired with global conflicts, racism and racial injustice, the cost of living and climate-related disasters our impacting the mental health of Americans. And there is a growing body of research showing that children are often the most vulnerable of those impacted during and after a disaster.

Today’s young people face monumental challenges at home and abroad, it’s OK to feel overwhelmed by it all. Why not focus on the things you can control and strengthen your mental resilience? Below we share some tips to get you started.

These stressors along with things like demands at school, home, pressures to succeed or fit in, can play a significant role in your mental wellbeing. For young people, there’s also the pressures of changes in your body, social pressures from friends and family and making big decisions about your future.

Long-term stress creates risks for both your physical and mental health. So it’s important to try and identify possible stressors in your life so you can try to manage your mental health now and in future.

How Stress Can Make You Feel

Stress can affect your emotions, your body and behaviour. And it can show up in a lot of different ways. If you are experiencing stress, you might feel:

There are also physical effects of stress, like:

If you or someone you know is struggling or having thoughts of suicide, call or text 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 or chat at 988lifeline.org. In life-threatening situations, call 911.

Tips To Help You Manage Stress

The way you respond to stress has an impact on your overall wellbeing, which is why identifying possible stressors in your life is important. You will be able to make more specific changes in your lifestyle that can lead to better mental health and, in turn, a better, and healthier lifestyle.

Here are some tips to help you manage stress:

Managing stress looks different for everyone, and trying to find what works best for you is crucial. As with all mental health challenges, if you feel like the stress is getting too overwhelming for you to handle, don’t be afraid to talk to someone.

This could be your parents, friends, school counsellor, or a mental health specialist so that you can feel heard and so that you can be given better tools to handle whatever might be going on in your life. Click here to explore national and state specific mental health support in California, Illinois, Minnesota or New York.

Additional Resources And Support On Stress

Mental Health America have a free online stress screener to find out if stress is impacting your life.

Check out The Trevor Project’s ‘How LGBTQ Youth Can Cope with Anxiety and Stress during COVID-19‘.

The JED Foundation has a useful resource on ‘How to Cope With Safety Threats in Your Community or the Word,’ and ‘Protecting Your Mental Health From Violent Content Online.’

Check out SAMHSA’s resource on ‘Coping Tips for Traumatic Events and Disasters,’ including information on how to take care of yourself and your loved ones before or after traumatic experiences.


Disclaimer: This website offers general information and is not a substitute for professional advice. We are not clinicians or trained professionals; this information should not replace seeking help from a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult a healthcare provider for personalized guidance.

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Wamah was not raised to share his emotions beginning at a very young age.

“I was often told boys don’t cry, stuff like that,” he says. “It causes a lot of issues growing up.”

Wamah began realizing that the stigma set in his family around emotions took a toll when he was in high school in North Carolina. It hampered his mental health in ways he did not know, but soon began to discover.

“I have issues giving myself in relationships or friendships or anything like that,” he says. “It takes a toll.”

For Sidney, growing up as a black female going to a predominantly white elementary and middle school created a mindset that festered in her that she wasn’t good enough compared to her white peers.

She developed imposter syndrome, never feeling good enough, or like she had to out-work everyone around her. She only felt good about herself with external validation. And she never felt like she had a fair shake. Combine that with the systemic racism in this country, and it created a very stressful environment where the high school student felt like she could never relax.

“It’s made like a toxic environment to kind of grow up in,” Sidney says.

Their stories might sound familiar, part of a growing chorus of teens like you talking about some of the specific issues in your community, households and culture that disproportionately can have an impact on your mental health.

Teens like yourself, Wamah and Sidney continue to share how difficult it is to share their problem with their families – in part because they were told not to share their emotions, because their parents dismissed their problems as minimal compared to theirs, or because a lack of adults they felt comfortable speaking with.

On top of that, we know that young people of color and their families have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. We also know that black youth face more trauma from gun violence in their communities, but also after the public shootings of several African Americans by police in America.

State of Mental Health for Black Teens

We know these cultural and systemic issues can plague you in your daily life and it can feel daunting and place even more stress on you than the average teen.

We know that black/brown teens access only half the mental care of their white peers. But more nuanced research about mental health for youth of color has been lacking.

However, groups like AAKOMA are on the frontline, advocating for more inclusive research. Their “State of Mental Health Youth of Color Report 2022” report gives us some critical insights.

Some data might hit close to home. But if you take anything from it, know this: you’re far from alone in how you’re feeling.

While there needs to be more data breaking down the experience of Black youth, The AAKOMA Project has helped start an important conversation by diving deep. We also really love that they included some helpful statistics about where black youths found support and hope. We wanted to share those too for your inspiration.

77.9% have at least one person they feel loves them.

74.6% have at least one person they feel loves and trusts them.

Four young mixed of different races outside on a sports pitch. They are dancing and it is sunny.

61.1% are hopeful about the future.

77% have at least one person they feel they can trust.


Find those bright spots in your life. They are important to celebrate and identifying them can help bring you closer to bettering your wellbeing. And remember, you can be one of those bright spots for others too!

Tips to Improve Your Mental Health

🌱🌟 Choose You: Prioritize your well-being. Simple acts can make a world of difference: drink a refreshing glass of water, take a few deep, grounding breaths, or jot down something you’re grateful for today. Allow yourself moments to stretch, compliment yourself, or even declutter a small corner of your room.

🌈 🛌 Recharge and Boundaries: It’s crucial to recognize when you’re stretched thin. Give your mind a breather. Maybe it’s meditating for a few minutes, setting aside screen-free hours, or simply taking a moment to stretch between tasks. Cultivate habits that ensure your energy isn’t constantly drained.

📖 🛀 Leisure Moments: Life isn’t just about hustling. Amidst school and chores, indulge in sheer enjoyment. Whether it’s binging a show you’ve been waiting for, reading a book, challenging your friends to that new multi-player game, finally trying out that TikTok dance or taking a relaxing shower or calm walk, make sure to carve out moments purely for pleasure.

🌍 🎨 Tap into your cultural identity: Embrace the beauty of your roots. Maybe cook a traditional meal from your culture, attend cultural events, explore fashion from diverse background or even create artwork inspired by your heritage. Seek out videos where people of your cultural identity speak openly about mental health online, making that connection between your heritage and well-being all the more meaningful. Celebrate who you are – it’s not just empowering, it’s beneficial for your mental wellbeing.

💬 👯 Seek support in meaningful relationships: It feels good to be understood. Whether it’s your cousin who just gets it, that auntie or teacher who seems pretty open and cool, or your BFF from school – lean on them. If you’re unsure where to turn, many organizations cater specifically to BIPOC youth. They’re ready to guide you, and they understand your unique experiences.

Additional Resources and Support for Black Teens

The Steve Fund: A hub for young people of color mental health. They team up with experts and youth to boost mental well-being understanding and support. Dive into their resources: watch videos of teens discussing mental health, tune into podcasts, and explore more tools.

BEAM: Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective. BEAM has resources on education, training and advocacy. Why not try their peer support spaces and check in and connect with other black youth.

AAKOMA Project: The AAKOMA (African American Knowledge Optimized for Mindfully-Healthy Adolescents) Project is a charity helping to advance the mental health of young people of color and their families. They provide tailored tools, educational programs, and resources.

Black Girls Smile: This initiative designed to champion the mental health of black women and girls puts mental wellness as a vital component of overall health. Black Girls Smile offers a wealth of resources and support. This includes educational programs, workshops, and community outreach events aimed at promoting mental health awareness and reducing the stigma surrounding mental health.


Disclaimer: This website offers general information and is not a substitute for professional advice. We are not clinicians or trained professionals; this information should not replace seeking help from a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult a healthcare provider for personalized guidance.

Recommended Resources