Youth face many pressures from school, social life, and family life which can add additional stress. In some cases, risk factors for depression stem from family history or are the result of having experienced a traumatic loss or event. 

According to Mental Health America, is it not abnormal for teens and youth to experience “the blues” or feel down at times because of the numerous changes that occur in the adolescent phase of life but it is important to be aware of any sudden changes that you might notice. 

What does depression look like in youth

Some common symptoms of depression include:

  • Poor self esteem or guilt
  • Lack of enthusiasm, or energy 
  • Overreacting to criticism 
  • Decreased school performance
  • Substance use or misuse 
  • Suicidal thoughts or ideas 
  • Shutting down and internalizing issues and concerns
  • Withdrawal or decreasing social, recreational or extracurricular activities or involvement
How can I help?

Modeling healthy habits and taking care of your own mental wellness is a great first step to helping a loved one with depression. Caregivers can help support youth by helping them to create a routine that supports healthy eating, adequate sleep and rest, as well as exercise. 

Keep in mind that depression is not something a person can “snap out of.”  The very nature of depression is a person feeling or thinking there is nothing they can do to feel better.  By practicing empathy, expressing support and concern and connecting to a medical or mental health professional you can give your child a sense of hope.

Talking to them about how they are feeling is important, and youth are more likely to engage when they are in a safe and validating space. Check out our Mental Health Conversation Starters  to get started. 

Here are some behaviors that are not always helpful:

  • Using statements like “Just get over it”, “It could be worse” or “Just Smile” – this is invalidating
  • Using sarcasm or dismissing the conversation when they try to engage with you
  • Comparing your own experience to theirs, each person’s experience is unique, just listen

Here are a few more tips: 

  • Ask questions to show you care about what they are experiencing
  • Be patient if they are having a tough time expressing themselves, don’t interrupt 
  • Validate their experience and encourage them to share more 
  • Maintain positive, open body language to show you are engaged and not defensive
  • Treat them with respect and do not blame them for their struggles 
  • Talk openly about realistic expectations and address any household concerns
  • Encourage self help and research supportive strategies together
  • Provide support and information, let them know professional help is available 

Types of available support include: 

  • Individual counseling
  • Family counseling
  • Peer support group
  • Family support advocates 

If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, support is available. Call the MHANYS Mental Health Information Center at 1-800-766-6177 or visit 

Click here to take one of Mental Health America’s confidential online Mental Health Assessment or view their recent data and educational infographics here

If you are in a crisis, CALL 1-800- 273-8255 or TEXT “GOT5” to 741741 for immediate assistance. For more information, visit and

Additional Resources

Resources for Families

Resources for Educators 

  • View our Educators Page to access lesson plans, book resources, recommendations for mental health instruction and more. 
  • Find additional support and information for school mental health education on NYS Education Department’s website


If you are in a crisis, CALL 1-800- 273-8255 or TEXT “GOT5” to 741741 for immediate assistance. For more information, visit and

Contact Us

Please contact us at or call 518.434.0439 from 9 am to 5 pm.

To contact a specific staff member, click here.

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