By Helaina Hovitz
June 1, 2017
Taking the first step in seeking support for any issues you’re dealing with deserves major props: It’s brave, it’s smart, and it’s an act of self-love. For adults, it can be tricky to navigate what those next steps are, and it can be even tougher for teens.
What if you’re afraid to talk to your parents about therapy or know for a fact that they don’t “believe” in it or that you can’t afford it? What if you have no idea how to look for a therapist and need to reach someone, like, now?
We did the research and spoke to experts from across the country on how to find the exact kind of help you need, anywhere, anytime, and on any budget, whether you’re in a crisis or are looking for ongoing support or medical treatment for a number of conditions.
If You Are Seeking Help With Violence or Abuse:
Jennifer Wyse, LMSW, a social worker at Safe Horizon, says that statistics show abuse and violence are a problem even before college; nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year, and females ages 16 to 19 are four times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault.
“Experiences such as sexual abuse, rape, dating violence, and family violence often lead people to develop symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and other anxiety disorders,” she says. “Yet because there is a lot of stigma and silence surrounding these issues, young people may not even know that they have experienced a traumatic event and may not understand what happened to them.”
Don’t blame yourself for feeling depressed, and don’t try to cope with difficult feelings by turning to alcohol or drugs, Wyse says — try these resources instead:
*Love Is Respect, which is focused on dating violence and abuse, has a hotline, text support, and Internet-based chat support with trained peer advocates.
- Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) offers free 24/7 online chat and a telephone hotline.
If You’re in the LGBTQ Community:
*Gary Brown, Ph.D., a therapist in Los Angeles, recommends checking out the Trevor Project, a great national resource who may be able to help you find local resources in your area.
*The Anti-Violence Project is a 24-hour hotline that also offers support to LGBTQ individuals.
If You’re Afraid to Talk to Your Parents:
“A lot of young people are afraid to open up to an adult and be judged or ridiculed, as sometimes adults don’t appreciate that the things that stress young people out are serious and real,” says Wyse. “Going through a breakup, being bullied in school, or having a hard time in class can be very stressful, and adults are sometimes dismissive of young people’s feelings about these things.”
Speaking to your parents is always worth a try though, as they may surprise you — and can help you find a specialist that accepts your insurance and pay for your treatment, sessions, or medications. Dr. Kerulis says that if your parents don’t believe in therapy or if you are having a hard time talking with them, try a different approach: Sending a text or email can be easier than saying the words.Try something like, “I have been feeling depressed and I want to see a counselor,” or “I have been bullied at school and it’s really bad”, or “I feel like killing myself and I need help.” If you want to add more detail, that is OK too, says Dr. Kerulis. Try writing, “I know you don’t believe in therapy, but I have some problems that I want to talk about with a counselor.”
“Once parents realize that you are serious about seeking help they might be more willing to help you find a counselor. The initial conversation can be really hard, but the more you talk to people about how you are feeling, the easier it gets,” she says.