What can I do when no one understands?


Children turn in to young adults and they can struggle with life. They may be in their room a lot. Their behavior may seem different from how they’ve always been. They may seem very emotional, sad or angry.
In some cases, they may make statements about not wanting to live anymore. And, it can be hard for parents to say much because it might cause an argument or the young adult might shut down.

Here are a few things that could help


Don’t argue with the young adult about the feelings, thoughts or situations that he may describe to you.

Yes, you may not believe him or agree, but the main goal is to open up lines of communication and figure out how to support him in getting help, feeling better or making changes. It’s important to take the young adult’s feelings at face value and not deny that this is causing them pain or concern.

The young adult may be experiencing a mental health concern.

Fifty percent of lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14 and 75% begin by age 24. Mental health concerns range in severity but the sooner help begins, the better. Medications and treatment can help reduce or remove symptoms. Mental health, like physical health, can respond to our efforts to improve it

Even as a concerned parent, it is impossible to solve the young adult’s problems for her but we can be supportive and seek our own support as well.

The young adult may or may not need professional help. If you are unsure, speak with your family doctor

Whatever the situation, it’s important to not focus on blaming yourself, the young adult or others.

As a parent, it’s very easy to think about all the things we wish we would have said or done differently, but placing blame on past decisions will not change the current situation for the young adult or for you. Focus on how to move forward.

How to Get Help

How to help your child get medical help:

Share resources with the young adult.

There are places he or she can read about other people who may feel the same way as they do. is one such website.

Suggest that the young adult goes to see his or her primary care doctor.

Because they know each other, it may seem less scary than going to a new doctor. The primary care doctor may be able to screen for a mental health concern and make a referral for mental health treatment if needed

There are lots of different types of mental health professionals.

It may be helpful to get familiar with them so that you, and the young adult, know who you want to be talking to. Just like primary care doctors, mental health professionals are different in how they approach treatment but all of them just want to support the young adult in being healthy.

In the end, because your child is over the age of 18, it will be his or her decision to get help or not.

Following the steps above can help to keep lines of communication open so that when the young adult is ready to seek help, you can be there as a support on his or her journey.


In the event you feel unsafe or you fear the young adult is unsafe.

If the young adult has threatened suicide or makes statements about wanting to die, you can take him or her to the nearest emergency room.

Although you can’t consent to treatment, the emergency room will help keep the young adult safe during that time.

If you feel unsafe, or feel others are unsafe, you can call 911.

You can ask if any officers on the schedule are CIT Trained. These officers have had special training to help individuals with mental health conditions.
And, remember, IT’S OK TO ASK!

About Psychosis

While not common, it is important to know that first episodes of psychosis often emerge in young adulthood. According to SAMHSA, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, “psychosis involves symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, or confused thinking. When someone has these for the first time, this is considered their first episode of psychosis.



Hallucinations are things you hear, see, smell, taste, or feel that no one else can hear, see, smell, taste, or feel. Hearing voices is the most common type of hallucination.


Delusions are false beliefs that seem real to your youth or young adult. People with delusions may believe that other people are spying on them or want to harm them or someone they care about.

Confused thinking

Confused thinking is a change in the way a person thinks. Thoughts may be very fast or slow, they may stop suddenly, or the person might feel that the thoughts are outside their control. These thoughts might show up as disorganized speech, such as shifting rapidly from one topic to another.”
Acting quickly to connect a person with the right treatment during early psychosis can be life-changing. For more information, see our Topics page on Psychosis or take a look at this handout put together by The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

How to take care of yourself

Trying to get your young adult medical help, or even trying to figure out if something is wrong, can be a tiring and draining process.

NAMI has a group where parents or caregivers meet to discuss their situations and feelings. As one parent shared, “it’s the only place I can go where everyone understands what I am going through.”

Your thoughts and feelings are valid and it is important that you have support during this time.

It may be helpful for you to talk to a therapist, a faith leader or another parent about the feelings you are having.
The Source • Youth Mental Health Network


There are a lot of places in your city that can help, too.
Here is a list of some community resources.


For the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline call 1-800-273-8255 or text the word ‘home’ to 741741 for Crisis Text Line.


For the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline call 1-800-273-8255 or text the word ‘home’ to 741741 for Crisis Text Line.