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Youth Mental Health Matters

We're for the developing brain -- our world's most valuable natural resource


Simply put, this website offers information about child and adolescent mental health — particularly as it relates to substance use and addiction.

Contributors to are big believers in evidence-based medicine that has practical, real-world applications — meaning science that has been subjected to the rigorous review of reputable scholars and can be used at home and throughout a community.

We do not have all the answers — but we are confident the information you find here is trustworthy enough to guide your search for them responsibly.

— Dr. Christian Thurstone, M.D.
Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Colorado


Dr. Christian Thurstone is featured in this video produced by Mental Health Colorado, a nonprofit organization advocating for the prevention and treatment of mental health and substance use disorders.

Colorado House approves regulation of THC concentrate

Colorado House lawmakers today approved a bill to regulate concentrated THC, the active ingredient of the cannabis plant strongly associated with development of psychosis and several other mental health problems. The bipartisan effort, led by Democratic Rep. Yadira...

Thurstone speaks with The Economist about overdose deaths

The headline above the May 15 report in The Economist gets straight to the point: "Last year, more people in San Francisco died of overdoses than COVID-19." As reported: "While covid-19 rampaged across the country, America’s other epidemic has quietly boiled over....

Get to know Johnny’s Ambassadors

Today, we caught the vision for a new effort to raise awareness about the potential health harms of marijuana use and the importance of seeking mental healthcare for addiction and a wide range of mental health problems, including depression, suicidal ideation and...

Recommended reading: Jesus and Mary Jane

My wife and I are always honored when someone seeks our help with the treatment of addiction and mental health. The call we received from Charlie Granade, pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Rogue River, Ore., was certainly no exception. He and the Rev. Barnabas...

Thurstone talks mental health in the days of COVID-19 with 9News

Today, KUSA 9News in Denver helped advance the mission of Mental Health Awareness Month with a panel discussion examining things to consider about mental health during in these days of the coronavirus known as COVID-19. I am honored to have been invited to...

Prevention and Treatment for Families

Help and hope for families wanting to avoid and address problems associated with substance use and addiction.

How parents can help their adolescents not use drugs

The most important thing parents can do for their adolescent with a substance problem is to maintain a positive, warm and loving relationship with him or her because this is the most important tool parents have to shape their child's values and future directions. This...

Parents don’t have to accept youth substance use

These are common questions: If so many teens are using addictive substances such as alcohol, tobacco and marijuana, what's the big deal? Isn't it normal to experiment like this? After all, teens will be teens -- and a lot of parents had their own flings with smokes...

impACT manual cover

Get the impACT diagnostic manual

This is the first adaptation of Acceptance and Commitment Training (ACT) for adolescent substance treatment. The manual is a general guide for treatment using Motivational Interviewing (MI) and Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT) principles.

Animal- assisted therapy for impACT

The use of animal-assisted therapy will promote comfort, accelerate rapport-building, encourage trust, elevate mood, reinforce activities of daily living (ADLs), increase interpersonal contact, encourage communication and encourage self-care.


"Clearing the Haze" book cover

Read the book

Clearing the Haze is a guide designed to help parents determine whether their child may have a substance problem and, if so, how to begin to address it. This book includes the voices and insight of experts in substance abuse counseling, young people in recovery, and parents who have lived the nightmare of adolescent addiction.

Hot Topics, Great Resources


Many parents describe it as “just pot” until they experience firsthand a child addicted to the drug.


Whether misused as prescribed or bought on the black market, opioids harm at record rates.

Brain Development

Anyone who has made it through adolescence knows this is a time of important development.

Find a Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist

Remember: Adolescent mental health extends to age 25. A great way to find a physician who understands the unique mental health needs of children and adolescents is searching the online member directory of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

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