Twelve Talks to

Have With Teens

Mental Health

Mental health is a reflection of the state of well-being in our thoughts, emotions and behaviors. Teens, like all people, have good days and bad days. Adults can let youth know they are there for them to talk, and can help them cope or get support and care when they need it.

  • Mental health is something everyone has. Everyone experiences changes in our mental health from day-to-day. Some of us might also have a mental health condition like depression, anxiety or bi-polar disorder. Just like physical ailments, with treatment and support, a person can have good mental health while living with a mental health condition. 


  • Everyone experiences challenges. Stress, anxiety, distressing experiences, chemical imbalances, genetics and our environment can all sometimes create challenges to positive mental health.


  • Seeking help when needed is a sign of strength. It’s important to encourage teens to talk about their mental health with someone they trust and to seek professional care when they need it, just as you would with a physical injury or ailment. Being able to talk about our mental health, and look for care when we need it, benefits our health and the health of those around us.


  • Teens and caregivers have a wide range of choices available to support mental health, including diet, exercise, professional care and medication. If the first thing you try doesn’t feel right, there are a variety of other options. The most important thing is to find an option (or options) that work best for your teen.  


  • Positive mental health allows us to feel good about life, supporting our ability to participate in daily activities and accomplish our goals.

A message to you from Colorado teens.  What your teen wants you to know. (1:31)

How to start a conversation

  • Ask open-ended questions, such as:

    • How can I be there for you? 

    • What can I do to love you better?

    • What do you wish I understood about you? 

    • What do you do when you’re dealing with challenges like stress or anxiety?

    • How do your friends handle mental health issues?

  • When you hear something on a show, a movie or a song that implies that people should  “get over it” or “toughen up” when experiencing mental health challenges, ask your teen what they think. 

  • Our own attitudes shape how we respond to others who come to us for help. Take the Let’s Talk Colorado quiz with your teen to help you both understand your own beliefs about mental health and mental health conditions.  

Quick tips

  • Remember, challenges with mental health can’t be willed away. Resist the habit to tell someone to “snap out of it” or “get tough.” People brave enough to open up about those challenges aren’t merely seeking attention.


  • The fact that you are there can make a world of difference. It’s ok to just listen.

  • Talk about the stress and challenges you face, including how you cope with those challenges in healthy ways-- and encourage your teen to talk with you about their challenges

  • Everyone is different. Your teen may want very specific help or no help at all. Either way, you can always ask and be open to the answer.

Things to do

  • Healthy coping tools can help deal with life’s ups and downs. Your teen may be interested in figuring out which healthy coping techniques work well for them.


  • Screening tools can sometimes be helpful to determine if your recent thoughts or behaviors may be associated with a common, treatable mental health issue.


  • Suicidal Behavior has a list of warning signs. 

  • Learn to #BeThe1To offer support if someone you know is ever struggling with thoughts of suicide. 

  • If you think the teen is having suicidal thoughts, ask them directly if they are thinking about suicide and if they indicate that they are, please immediately contact Colorado Crisis Services for confidential and immediate support, 24/7/365 on the phone 1-844-493-8255, text (text TALK to 38255), or though online chat ( In person walk-in locations in Jefferson County are also listed on the website.

  • If you feel that your teen would benefit from professional mental health care, a few options in our community include:

    • Jefferson Center is a nonprofit, community-focused mental health care and substance use services provider.

    • Denver Family Therapy Center offers individual therapy, couples or marriage therapy, family therapy, and combinations thereof. They are primarily insurance-based and have offices that span from Littleton to Wheat Ridge to Denver to Aurora. DFTC is also the home of the Adolescent Substance Abuse Program (ASAP) and the Youth Drug Alcohol Prevention and Education Program (Y-DAP) for Jefferson County. 

    • STRIDE Community Health Center is a Federally Qualified Health Center provides affordable and accessible behavioral health care, as well as medical and dental care, among low-income, uninsured, and under-served residents in Jefferson County. 

    • Second Wind Fund matches children and youth at risk for suicide with licensed therapists in their communities. If a financial or social barrier to treatment is present, they pay for up to 12 sessions of therapy from one of our specialized network providers. Their unique program helps referred youth discover hope and healing in their lives.

Recommended Resources

  • Jefferson Center: MyStrength: This free online mental health toolkit offers tools and programs accessible from a computer to help with stress, anxiety, trouble sleeping and other common issues.


  • Nothing has a bigger impact on young people than strong, positive relationships. Forward Together is a community of parents and other adults who are trying to build better connections with the young people in their lives. You can have a big impact too when you commit to connecting. From building resilience to healthier kids in general, find out all the reasons why quality relationships matter.

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* Healthy Kids Colorado Survey 2019, Jefferson County data; **Jefferson County CTC Youth Town Hall data 2019 & 2020.


This project was created by the Jefferson County Communities That Care coalition and is housed within Jefferson County Public HealthThis resource was developed with funding from a Communities That Care grant from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, a grant from Community First Foundation and a Drug-Free Communities grant from the Office of National Drug Control Policy and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The views, policies and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the grant providers.