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It’s not too late. Just listen.

There are times when we’ve all felt sad or upset, like nothing is going our way. If there is one thing we’ve learned it’s that what we feel matters. It’s worth talking about it – to our friends, to our parents or caregivers, to the people we trust in our lives. Whether you or a friend is dealing with a tough situation, having a hard time, or even gotten into trouble, it’s not too late to get help – or to be of help.

If you’re a parent or caregiver of a teenager, welcome! Here you will find tips and techniques to stay involved and help improve your relationship with your teen. The best way to start is to just listen.

As the Boston Youth Resiliency and Recovery Collaborative, we aim to prevent and address substance use, those impacted by the opioid crisis, and their loved ones. Click here for more information about our program.

Disclaimer: If you or someone you know is in danger, please

call 911

The ad you swiped up on was created by real Boston teens, to foster positive and healthy relationships between youth and their parents, caregivers, and trusted adults. As we know, healthy relationships start with good communication – and that’s what this site is about.

What to listen for

As a society, we don’t often talk about what to look for to find out if your teen needs more support. Learning about these signs isn’t about shaming, blaming, or making teens feel bad about themselves. This is meant to make you aware of what to look for so you can take action to help your teen feel better. Here are some warning signs that a teen may need your support.

Substance misuse

Your teen is displaying signs of substance misuse. Substances (or drugs) are chemicals that cause a change in your body or brain. Most drugs affect your body through the brain, which is your control center. Substance use disorder is a disease that affects a person’s brain and behavior, making it difficult for them to control the use of a substance. Please note: substance misuse affects teens and adults in different ways. For more information about addressing and preventing substance use, visit:

Out of the norm

You’ve noticed something different that just doesn’t seem right, but aren’t sure why.

Unexpected behavior

Your teen’s behavior seems different than others in their peer group.


Your teen is having a hard time engaging with family and friends.


Your teen has lost interest in hobbies or activities they used to enjoy.

Changes in eating and sleeping habits

They have little appetite or are overeating. Unusual shifts in sleep patterns.

Short temper & impulsive

They’re easy to anger or annoy, and they take big risks for little or no reason.

Becoming a better listener

Here are some tips and tricks on starting a conversation with teens.

Spend more time with your teen doing everyday activities and sparking everyday conversation. This can be a first step to opening dialogue about more serious issues.

Be available while not being intrusive.

Take their feelings seriously and try to be open, calm, and nonjudgmental if they do open up.

Reassure them that you will be there for them and that you’re glad they’re talking to you about their struggles.

Ask what they need from you – do they want help and advice from you, or do they just need to you to listen?

Next steps

Other resources and tools to figure out when you need to bring in additional help.

This course teaches you how to identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders. The training gives you the skills you need to reach out and provide initial help and support to someone who may be developing a mental health or substance use problem or experiencing a crisis.

TEAM’s mission is to equip friends and family members of those struggling with a mental health condition with the right information and resources necessary to take action and help their loved ones. They are the support for the support.

This resource provides insights and advice to help you look after your own mental health and support others.

MHA’s work is driven by its commitment to promote mental health as a critical part of overall wellness, including prevention services for all; early identification and intervention for those at risk; integrated care, services, and supports for those who need them; with recovery as the goal.

For more information on this campaign and initiative, please email

This webpage supports the goals and objectives of the Boston Public Health Commission’s Opioid Affected Youth Initiative / Boston Youth Resiliency & Recovery Collaborative (BYRRC) through the development of a collaborative, crosssector, and data-driven city-wide implementation plan to support youth and their families who have been adversely affected by the opioid crisis.

This webpage was prepared under grant #2019-YB-FX-K004 from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), U.S. Department of Justice. The information presented does not necessarily reflect the opinions of OJJDP/OJP/DOJ.