The Typical or Troubled?® Curriculum

The Typical or Troubled? (or Típico o Problemático?) program includes a compendium of educational materials. These materials were originally developed in partnership with local high school personnel, and they continue to evolve with community involvement and reviewed for medical accuracy. Some materials can be customized to reflect the local school community.

The educational presentation is the core of the program and is designed to be presented by teachers, administrators, counselors, or school social workers in partnership with psychiatrists or other mental health professionals. Based upon school personnel input and other APA Foundation research and analysis, the Typical or Troubled? educational materials focus on the following elements:

  • Early identification of mental health problems and the importance of intervention. 
  • An overview of mental disorders and the key warning signs.
  • The impact of a mental health issue on the teen and school community, why getting appropriate care and treatment is critical, and the difference between 'typical' and 'troubled' behavior.
  • The role school personnel (or other adults in the community) can play in helping a teen get help - and why taking action and referring is important.
  • An overview of how the school's referral system works and the steps to take action to connect a student to help.
  • How to talk to and engage teens, parents, or school counselors.

Program materials that are made available for schools implementing the Typical or Troubled? program include:

  • Educational training presentation for teachers and school personnel either in English, or the (PowerPoint slides with scripted notes, sample slides here
  • Educational training presentation of Típico o Problemático? designed for Hispanic school communities and parents in both English and Spanish (PowerPoint slides with scripted notes, sample slides here)
  • Brochure about teen mental health (English and Spanish versions available)
  • Tips and role playing exercises for improving communication between teens, parents, and school personnel
  • Articles on student mental health
  • Program evaluation form

In evaluations over 7 years, the Typical or Troubled? program consistently shows high scores in raising awareness, skill building, improving referral systems, and connecting teens to treatment and help, among others. Importantly, post training and program delivery sites reported that the program has increased referrals, prevented tragedies, and stopped planned suicides.


If you, or someone you know is in suicidal crisis or emotional distress, click here for a list of resources.