Mental illnesses are conditions that affect a person’s thinking, feeling, mood or behavior.

Mental illness is quite common among adolescents and young adults.  The statistics are astounding: 1 in 5 young people suffer from a mental illness- that’s 20% of our population!

                                       Mental Illnesses in Youth

Adolescence isn’t an easy time. The many transitions that accompany adolescence can become overwhelming for many. These transitions can be physical, emotional, hormonal, sexual, social, or intellectual. For many young people, these and other pressures and problems can lead to one or more of a variety of mental health disorders. Having a mental illness can make the things you do in life hard, like work, school and socializing with other people.


If you think you (or someone you know) might have a mental disorder, it is best to consult a professional as soon as possible. A health care professional will connect the symptoms and experiences you are having to help formulate a diagnosis.

Mental disorders can be separated into several categories. Click here for a list of the most common diagnoses


                    It is important to address mental health concerns during the critical                                    developmental stage of adolescence.   

1 in 5 young people live with a mental health condition—1/2 develop the condition by age 14 and 3/4 by age 24.


Howard County Facts

23.5% of high school students reported feeling sad or hopeless in the past year.

18.2% of middle school students reported feeling sad or hopeless in the past year.

16.2% of high school students and 20% of middle school students seriously considered attempting suicide.

If you think you, or someone you know, may have a mental health condition, it’s important to know and recognize the 10 common warning signs.

  1. Feeling very sad or withdrawn
    for more than two weeks. 
  2. Seriously trying to harm or kill
    oneself or making plans to do so.
  3. Severe out-of-control,
    risk-taking behaviors.
  4. Sudden, overwhelming fear for
    no reason.Stress icon
  5. Not eating, throwing up or using
    laxatives to lose weight; significant
    weight loss or weight gain.
  6. Seeing, hearing or believing
    things that are not real.                         
  7. Repeated usage of drugs
    or alcohol.
  8. Drastic changes in mood, behavior,
    personality or sleeping habits.
  9. Extreme difficulty in concentrating
    or staying still.
  10. Intense worries or fears that get
    in the way of daily activities.

If you see these signs in yourself or someone else, reach out to someone you trust, a parent, friend, teacher, coach, or religious leader right away.
You can also contact the Grassroots Crisis Intervention 24-Hour Crisis Hotline
Talk: 410.531.6677
Visit: www.grassrootscrisis.org


Suicide is a serious public health problem that affects many young people.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for youth between the ages of 10 and 24. 
(CDC, 2016)

Suicidal thoughts, much like mental health conditions, can affect anyone regardless of age, gender or background. In fact, suicide is often the result of an untreated mental health condition.

What are the risk factors?

Risk factors are issues in a young person’s life that increase the likelihood (risk) of them acting on suicidal thoughts. There are a number of things that may put a person at risk of suicide, including:

  • A family history of suicide
  • Substance abuse– Drugs and alcohol can result in mental highs and lows that exacerbate suicidal thoughts.
  • Intoxication– More than one in three people who die from suicide are found to be currently under the influence.
  • A serious or chronic medical illness.
  • Gender– Although more women than men attempt suicide, men are four times more likely to die by suicide.
  • A history of trauma or abuse.
  • Prolonged stress.
  • Age– People under age 24 or above age 65 are at a higher risk for suicide.
  • A recent tragedy or loss.

Want to learn more about youth suicide in Howard County?

Check out this cool infographic for more info –> HC Youth Suicide Awareness



Things you can do:

  1. Talk with your pediatrician or family doctor.
  2. Get a referral to a mental health specialist.
  3. Talk with your school guidance counselor
  4. Connect with friends and family.


Risk factors can be balanced out to a certain extent by the presence of protective factors.

There are a range of protective factors that can help to reduce suicidal behavior, including:

  • Strong, positive relationships with parents and guardians – feeling secure and supported
  • Connections to other adults– teacher, coach, pastor, counselor
  • Closeness to caring friends
  • Academic achievement
  • School safety
  • Feeling a sense of belonging to something bigger than themselves – community, culture, religion, sports team
  • Resilience



In this video created by Mayo Clinic, teens describe common signs that a teen is considering suicide and provide encouragement for communicating directly and immediately for support and safety. It also Includes suggestions for what to say to a teen who may be at risk for suicide and ways to keep them safe.


If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the Grassroots Crisis Intervention 24-Hour Crisis Hotline

Talk: 410.531.6677
Visit: www.grassrootscrisis.org


If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call 911 immediately

What you hold in will, in time, find a way out. Your emotions need room to breathe as much as you do. 

If you’re concerned that you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, it’s important to act immediately!

Call your doctor, mental health crisis service, or go to your local hospital’s emergency department.


Maryland Crisis Connect
Provides trained crisis counselors to assist individuals struggling with suicide, physical and sexual abuse, depression, stress, pregnancy, homicide concerns, eating disorders, sexual identity, running away, relationship problems, divorce, sexually transmitted infections, and school issues.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline

The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.

Crisis Text Line

Crisis Text Line is free, 24/7 support for those in crisis. Text 741741 from anywhere in the US to text with a trained Crisis Counselor. Crisis Text Line trains volunteers to support people in crisis.

Text 741 741

Grassroots Crisis Intervention (Crisis/Suicide/Runaway/Shelter)
Grassroots operates a 24-hour crisis intervention and supportive counseling hotline. Callers may remain anonymous and may call for a variety of reasons including suicide, family and relationship problems, shelter needs, violent or threatening domestic situations, loneliness or depression, and chemical dependency issues, among others. The Hotline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
6700 Freetown Rd, Columbia, MD 21044

National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI)
An online community designed to empower young adults through resource sharing and peer support. 
1-800-950-NAMI (6264)

NAMI Howard County welcomes your call to help you find resources and access mental health services. 
9650 Santiago Road, Suite 1
Columbia, MD 21045
(410) 772-9300

Howard County Mobile Crisis Team (MCT)
MCT responds to suicide threats or attempts, intense family or parent/child conflict, psychiatric or behavioral emergencies, crisis situations and traumatic events, and children/adolescents with serious emotional difficulties. MCT is available 9:00 a.m. to 11 p.m., 7 days a week.

Click here to see additional local resources in the Howard County community.