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Text Counseling for Adolescents: A New Age Mental Health Support

Today, adolescents are facing a lot of issues that can be impacting their mental health. Many adolescents are experiencing significant mental or emotional challenges or breakdown and need some sort of medical attention or counseling for their condition. Text counseling is a form of counseling that allows you to access a mental health provider through messages. It can help support adolescents’ mental health.

This article will help you know more about the process of text counseling and how it can act as a tool for supporting adolescents’ mental health. 

Adolescents and Their Mental Health

Generally, today adolescents and teenagers are struggling with various challenges in their lives, and these challenges are putting them under a lot of stress that can impact their overall mental health.

Many mental health disorders emerge during adolescence, contributing to the ongoing health challenges faced by young individuals and often persisting into adulthood. (1) Above 50% of mental disorders in adults have their onset before their mid-teen years. (2, 3) A survey of 10,123 adolescents aged 13 to 18 in the continental United States found that 40% had at least one mental disorder that met the criteria for a lifetime condition. (4)

Additionally, a landmark study conducted in 2019 by the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute has shown that between 2015 and 2017, 14.9% of boys in their age group of 15 years to 17 years and 28.5% of girls in the age group seriously considered attempting suicide.  (5) However, almost 40% of young ages (12-17 years) with depression did not receive treatment or counseling.

Failing to address mental disorders in adolescence can harm mental and physical health and hinder leading a quality life in adulthood. Thus, adolescents need to address their mental health conditions and try out various means to lead a mentally sound state.

What is Text Counseling?

Adolescents can be best reached in a way that they want to be reached, and that is where text counseling comes into the act. Text counseling works as a tool for supporting adolescents’ mental health. Such type of counseling reaches the youth mass that suffers from mental health problems at high rates yet are reluctant to seek medical assistance. Unlike traditional therapy, adolescents undergoing text counseling will not have to wait until a specific appointment time. As a new interface, though text counseling could be effective, it is not well-researched, and more research in this field is essential.

What Happens In Text Counseling?

Usually, users receive welcome messages from the counselors of the sites from which they opt to take assistance for addressing their mental health issues.

The affected adolescents (user) present their problems to their health counselors and psychiatrists who study their mental health issues, thoroughly analyze the issues and provide appropriate solutions using text counseling methods. However, the written format is required that both parties, the user, and counselors should be explicit and clear to present their messages accurately. A team manages and saves all incoming messages from the user and outgoing messages from the health counselors so that proper analysis of the situations get possible.

The privacy and flexibility of text counseling lead young people to seek assistance, that might be avoided otherwise.

How Can Text Counseling Be a Tool for Supporting Adolescents’ Mental Health?

For the digitally connected generation of adolescents, text communication is a logical step. Around 75% of adolescents in the United States own or have access to a smartphone. (6) Of those teens, 90% of teens are connected via text.

SMS text counseling is now used increasingly as a supportive tool for delivering appropriate health services to adolescents that promote psychological well-being and also intend at protecting adolescents from experiencing adverse effects on mental health in the future. (7)

Below, let us study how text counseling can be a tool for supporting adolescents’ mental health.

Limitations of Face-to-face Counseling That Can Be Met Through Text Counseling

Though many face-to-face psychological therapies are effective in treating mental health and addictions, several adolescents and children do not receive or have proper access to such therapies. (8, 9) Children surviving in poverty, children living in rural areas, and adolescents and their families who experience stigma from stereotyping and prejudice often face consistent barriers to accessing care. (10, 11, 12) Sometimes, even if there is access to face-to-face therapies, adolescents hesitate to visit their therapists due to several reasons.

However, text counseling can be an effective approach for such adolescents who need support for their mental health issues but limit visiting their doctors face-to-face. Text counseling might make them feel more at ease.

Text Counseling is Comparatively Inexpensive

Many traditional therapies and treatments can be expensive. However, text counseling can be comparatively inexpensive, depending on your choice of provider, and you would have to pay less each month than if you see a therapist face-to-face.

Appropriate Guidance Provided to Adolescents in Regards to Their Mental Health

Life challenges, especially for adolescents and teenagers can cause a lot of pain and they can also put them into deep stress and lead to emotional breakdown. However, text counseling can help them sort through their emotions and provide appropriate guidance.

Adolescents Can Connect With A Wider Pool Of Professionals

Text counseling lets adolescents and their parents connect with a wider pool of professionals and help them in addressing their minor distress or mental health problems easily. Everyone can access text counseling regardless of where they live. So, that is the power of technology for youth well-being.

Need for More Research in the Field of Text Counseling for Addressing Adolescents’ Mental Health

Text counseling is a great area of research today. Text counseling focuses on mental health and addictions, and this has been tested. However, recent research in this field presents many limitations in addressing the adolescent population’s needs.

A review of SMS text messaging mental health interventions conducted in 2016 by Watson et al, excluded studies involving adolescents and children (13), and reviews by Berrouiguet et al (14), and Rathbone and Prescott (15) did not convey information on the target age range of studies in their reviews, and this made it quite challenging to conduct any subanalysis of adolescent interventions in particular. Moreover, findings from these reviews that focused on adults might not be generalizable to the adolescent population.


Text counseling as a tool for supporting adolescents’ mental health is growing rapidly and has been a main area of research. However, due to lack of more large-scale controlled trials, there are also specific concerns.

But again, if your adolescent is struggling with their mental health, getting professional help that works is what matters. While text counseling may not be effective for everyone, it could make a significant difference for some.

However, we would suggest, if you can, then see a professional therapist or mental health professional in person.


Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 28, 2023

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