Searching For Normal

the story of a girl gone too soon

Are you a teenager or young adult seeking help and connection? 

This section includes resources that provide general information on mental illnesses, ways to connect with others who may be dealing with issues similar to yours, ways to help a friend who is struggling, and resources specific to youth grappling with self-harm (such as cutting), LGBTQ issues, or bullying.

To help you better understand mental health issues:

www.nami.org: The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is a nationwide, grassroots mental health advocacy organization with state chapters. NAMI offers support, education, awareness, and advocacy; advocates for access to services, treatment, support, and research; and trains grassroots volunteer facilitators who host individual and family support groups in thousands of US communities. Through the toll-free NAMI HelpLine, NAMI provides free referrals, information, and support. Call 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), Monday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time.

Ways to connect with others dealing with similar issues:

www.jedfoundation.org: Through a variety of programs, the Jed Foundation works to promote emotional health and prevent suicide among college students. The website includes facts empowering young people to protect their emotional health, support their friends, and become advocates so every American has access to mental health help. ULifeline, found on the website, is an anonymous, confidential resource center where you can be comfortable searching for the information you need regarding emotional health. The site also has information on how you can help a friend who you think may be struggling. You can enter your college name and find out what resources are available on your campus. The Jed Foundation also has a student advisory council that helps guide its efforts.

www.halfofus.com: Through Half of Us, mtvU and the Jed Foundation aim to initiate a public dialogue to raise awareness about the prevalence of mental health issues and connect students to the appropriate resources. Based on what you are feeling (angry, sad, weird) or what issue you are dealing with (self-image, digital drama, LGTBQ, self-harm, other), you can find facts and recommendations to help you on the website.

www.StrengthofUs.org: Strength of Us is an online community developed by young adults and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). It’s designed to inspire young adults impacted by mental health issues to think positive, stay strong, and achieve their goals through peer support and resource sharing. Through this site, you can join a variety of online support groups: depression, relationships, vent this, #thinking positive, and many others.

www.7cupsoftea.com: Seven Cups of Tea is a marketplace for emotional support. People go to the website [[add: or smart phone app]]when they need somebody to talk to or to vent. You can touch base as much as you like. For users, the site is anonymous, convenient, free, and on-demand. You can select or get matched up with trained active listeners who, according to the site, are kind, compassionate, and nonjudgmental. Each listener has a short profile, a listing of what languages they speak, and a list of issues or mental health categories in which they are comfortable conversing. In the same way you might rate vendors on eBay or restaurants on Yelp, users rate the listeners. You can look at reviews and ratings for listeners before you select whom you want to talk to. You also have the option of connecting with a therapist for fee-based online therapy or free online counseling. The site uses bridging technology that lets you connect one-on-one with a listener while remaining anonymous. Also available on the site is a series of self-help guides: “Anxiety Guide,” “Eating Disorder Guide,” “Surviving Breakups Guide,” and many more.

www.ok2talk.org: The goal of OK2TALK is to create a community for teens and young adults struggling with mental health problems and to encourage them to talk about what they’re experiencing by sharing their personal stories of recovery, tragedy, struggle, or hope. Anyone can add their voice by sharing creative content, such as poetry, inspirational quotes, photos, videos, song lyrics, and messages of support, in a safe, moderated space. The website has information in English and Spanish.

www.reachout.com: ReachOut is managed by the Inspire Foundation and provides youth with a nonthreatening first step to explore how they can help themselves through a tough time via:

  • Expert knowledge based on research and youth-generated content, stories, and other information reviewed by mental health experts.
  • Improving coping skills, self-help, and resilience through numerous platforms, such as text or online forums, where youth can ask questions and receive support.
  • Reducing the stigmas surrounding mental health; showing, through increased knowledge, many of the issues youth deal with and that getting help is okay.
  • Offering connection and space to share opinions and stories and to provide support to each other in a safe and positive environment.

www.activeminds.org: This student-run mental health awareness, education, and advocacy organization is dedicated to raising awareness about mental health among college students. It serves as the young-adult voice in mental health advocacy on more than one hundred college campuses nationwide. The organization develops and supports student-run chapters on college and university campuses that promote a dialogue around issues of mental health and educate the entire student body about available resources in and around the campus community. The website serves as a clearinghouse of information on college mental health.

www.bringchange2mind.org: Bring Change 2 Mind is an advocacy group founded by actress Glenn Close, whose sister Jessie has bipolar disorder. The mission of this organization is to eliminate stigmas through widely disseminated public-education materials and programs and by sharing stories of real people. You can read others’ stories and share your own on the website, and can take an online pledge to stand up against the stigmatization of mental illness.

Ways to communicate safely with your parents:

www.1800runaway.org: The National Runaway Safeline is a twenty-four-seven hotline and website for runaways and homeless youth. This service may be helpful to you if you can’t talk to your parents about what’s going on, if you feel a lot of pressure from your friends, or if school stresses you out. Maybe you want to run away from home, because you think that might be the answer. Maybe you’ve left home and you want your parents to know you’re okay but aren’t ready to tell them where you are or don’t know how to face them. Or maybe you need a shelter and don’t know how to find one in your area. Through NRS’s message relay and conference call programs, you can begin lines of communication with your parents without divulging your location to them. You can also post on the NRS bulletin board, send an e-mail, or start a live chat by clicking on the red button at the top of the screen on the web page. The site also includes research findings about runaways. Call 1-800-RUNAWAY (1-800-786-2929).

Help for self-harm behaviors:

The Butterfly Project’s goal is to help people who have a problem with self-injuring (such as cutting) and are surrounded by feelings of hopelessness, as well as for anyone who knows someone who has this problem. The site targets people who want to get help, get better, and live a happier life. The website includes a blog, an “ask” box, and useful hotlines. The concept behind the Butterfly Project is that when you feel like you want to cut, instead take a marker or pen and draw a butterfly on your arm or hand, then name the butterfly after a loved one or someone who really wants you to get better. You try to keep the butterfly alive. Check out the site to read how this works and to see the photos of beautiful butterflies others have designed.

www.healthyplace.com: HealthyPlace.com is the largest consumer mental health site, providing comprehensive, trusted information on psychological disorders and psychiatric medications from both a consumer and an expert point of view. Check out the post on the website titled “Self Injury, Self Harm Statistics and Facts.”

www.twloha.com: To Write Love on Her Arms is a nonprofit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. TWLOHA began in Orlando, Florida, in 2006, when founder Jamie Tworkowski wrote a story about a friend who struggled with self-injury and addiction and the five days preceding her entry into treatment. The story, which was entitled, “To Write Love on Her Arms,” went viral, and T-shirts were initially printed and sold as a way to pay for that friend’s treatment. Since then, TWLOHA has become a nonprofit that serves as a bridge to hope and help for people facing the same issues. If you would like more information about the counseling or treatment resources that are available, check out the Find Help page. Also on the website is an online store that sells merchandise, such as T-shirts. While these sales help finance TWLOHA’s work, more broadly, every piece of merchandise also has a much bigger purpose as a conversation-starter that can tie supporters together as a community. TWLOHA offers a number of ways to participate in its mission: through the website’s blog, college campus chapters, storyteller campaigns, street teams that help get the word out, and an intern program.

Help with bullying issues:

www.stopbullying.gov: This stop-bullying website provides information on what bullying is, who is at risk, and how you can prevent, respond to, and report cyber- and other bullying. The site targets kids, teens, parents, and educators and includes links to videos and information on policies, laws, and other resources.

www.7cupsoftea.com: This website is described above, but note that the site contains a link to a video on bullying and information on how to stop it. Click on “Self-Help Guides” at the top of the page, and scroll down to “Bullying.”

Help with LGBTQ issues:

www.thetrevorproject.org: Founded in 1998 by the creators of the Academy Award–winning short film Trevor, the Trevor Project is the leading US organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning young people (LGBTQ) ages thirteen to twenty-four. You can text, chat with, or talk to someone on the phone twenty-four-seven. Trevor offers online interactive training for adults to help them learn about LGBTQ youth and the specific risks and challenges they face, as well as online training for young adults, and has a search engine to help users find local resources. To connect with trained help via a free, confidential, secure service phone number, call 1-866-488-7386. The site also provides a social networking site for LGBTQ youth and a support center where they and their allies can find answers to frequently asked questions and explore resources related to sexual orientation, gender identity, and more.