Organizations offering help to teens include local support groups, professionals, youth centers and religious organizations. These can be found with a call to a school counselor or county mental health department or through an Internet search using the name of your town, keywords such as teen, youth or young adult and the type of support sought. National organizations often serve teens via phone, Internet and sometimes local outreach programs. Most are nonprofit, confidential and free.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is for anyone contemplating suicide and for anyone simply needing to talk about stressful situations or feelings. To speak to a trained counselor, call 800-273-TALK (8255) any day or time. The NSPL serves all ages, but it links to a teen/young adult website called You Matter. Here youth participate anonymously in forums, watch videos and read blogs, such as "It Does Get Better - But What About Right Now?" that are written by other young people who have also traveled rough roads. The You Matter website, not a substitute for getting immediate help, posts the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.
On the Street
StandUp for Kids strives to build supportive relationships with 13- to 25-year-olds living on the street. The nonprofit helps kids find and adjust to safe, alternative living arrangements and helps them become self-sufficient. And they provide support to youth unable or unwilling to leave the streets. For help, call StandUp for Kids at 800-365-4KID. National Runaway Safeline's mission is also to keep America’s youth safe and off the streets. Services include runaway prevention and helping runaways reconnect with families. Also, NRS answers legal and medical questions and provides referrals to appropriate supports such as drug treatment, runaway shelters such as Teen Living Programs, counseling and support groups. Call 800-RUNAWAY. Its website 1800runaway.org lists organizations that help with specific problems encountered by kids on the street, such as forced prostitution and bullying.
Covering It All
The tagline for ReachOut.com, "Get Through Tough Times," sums up its goal. Administered by the Inspire USA Foundation, ReachOut.com's mission is "to help youth strengthen mental wellness through technology-driven resources and peer support." It works with nonprofits, government agencies and universities. Website content is written by teens and young adults for other youth who can also connect in the forums and get fact sheets and helpline numbers on their Crisis Help page. Another organization helping teens through rough spots is Teen Line, created in 1980 by mental health professionals. Youth can text, chat, email or call a volunteer, using contact information on the website. Common website questions and staff responses deal with sadness, anger, clinical depression, loneliness, sexuality, suicide, school and abuse.
Working with other volunteers for a common cause provides a sense of belonging that is important to young people. Do Something.org provides teens and young adults with opportunities to volunteer and advocate for causes that matter to them. It connects youth with a varied selection of causes and gives them the chance to earn scholarships, complete internships and become engaged in work that boosts self-esteem and leads to career opportunities. Nearly a third of the kids served by the Boys and Girls Clubs of America are teens who don't just hang out after school but become involved in indoor and outdoor activities, from computers to basketball. The BGCA helps teens complete homework, prepare for college and manage personal finances. Use the site's locator to find a club near you.
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Cindy Blankenship, a California native, began reporting in 1996 for the Grants Pass Daily Courier after teaching in Hawaii where she lived 14 years. As assistant editor at the Rogue River Press, she wrote and edited several stories that earned awards from the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association. Her writing appears in numerous publications.