Teen & Adolescent

Mental Health Facts & Statistics

There are many different categories of mental illness, and those who struggle with any of them do not do so by choice. A variety of factors can cause and/or lead to the development of mental illness in teens. Mental illness looks different for everyone, and the symptoms associated with them can make everyday, mundane tasks feel overwhelming and stressful.

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of lifetime cases of mental illness begin at 14 years of age.

An Introduction to Teen Mental Health

Despite common misconceptions and beliefs, disorders related to mental health do not selectively target adults. Mental illness is becoming increasingly common among teenagers throughout the United States and globally. Recent studies indicate that approximately one in five teens between ages twelve and eighteen suffer from at least one diagnosable mental health disorder.

A study published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology in 2019 indicates the teen mental health crisis continues to grow. In fact, mental health professionals and members of the medical community have referred to the current rising trend in teens seeking (or needing) mental health treatment as an epidemic. The same study provided a few troubling facts relating to the increase in mental health issues between 2009 and 2017. 

  • Cases of major depression among teens ages sixteen and seventeen rose by an overwhelming 69%.
  • Feelings of anxiety and hopelessness increased by 71% among people ages seventeen to twenty-five.
  • One out of five girls ages twelve to seventeen had experienced major depression within the last year.
  • Between 2008 and 2017, the suicide rate among teens ages eighteen to nineteen increased by 56%.

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Youth Mental Health Facts

A teen’s life is often thought to be more carefree and less stressful than that of adults. While their lives have their fair share of ups and downs, for the most part, teens are not saddled with the same stress-inducing responsibilities as adults. Given the pervasive nature of this thought process, it may come as a surprise to know that research has shown approximately 50% of all lifetime cases of mental illness will develop before the age of seventeen. Unfortunately, teen mental health issues are often overlooked or written off as “typical teen angst” that will go away on its own. 

It is difficult to point to one singular cause responsible for the stark decline in teen mental health. The impact of various environmental, genetic, and situational factors varies depending on the person, and therefore, one cause does not fit all. However, a few common factors have been found to contribute to mental health difficulties in almost every case.

Busy Schedules and Pressure to Succeed

Teens today are under significantly higher pressure to perform academically and in extra-curricular settings. School and other activities such as sports can be a huge source of stress and lead to mental health problems. 

Social Media

Social media can be a blessing and a curse for teens and adults alike. In recent years, there has been growing concern about the effects of social media on the developing brains of teens. Research indicates there is a strong link between heavy social media use and teen mental health problems. Online social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat can inadvertently put undue pressure on teens by putting forth unattainable body images, status symbols, or other successes attainable by only a select few. 

Underdeveloped Coping Skills

Many teams have not developed the coping skills necessary to effectively handle triggering events or unpleasant situations that life can present. Maladaptive coping skills such as overeating, consuming too much social media, or engaging in other risky behaviors such as alcohol and drug abuse can lead to mental health illnesses if proper responses to triggers are not developed.

Relationship Difficulties

Teen relationships, be they friendships or romantic relationships, are often weighed down by stressors that can either produce or aggravate adverse mental health symptoms. Due to their nature, teen relationships are ever-changing, and the above-referenced lack of adequate coping skills needed to handle the emotional disruptions that come from the dissolution of a teen relationship (especially romantic one) can often result in symptoms of teen depression or anxiety. 

 

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for the mental health symptoms that arise from some of the factors mentioned above to be written off as ordinary, everyday mood swings attributable to adolescent development. It is essential to look deeper into the cause of the behavioral or emotional changes a teen may be experiencing to determine if their symptoms could be indicative of something more profound. If you are concerned about a teen who has recently shown altered behavior or altered emotional symptoms and you are worried that a deeper mental health condition may be to blame, don’t hesitate to get help for your teen Adolescent Wellness Academy. 

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of those with an addiction began using before the age of 18.

Common Teenage Mental Health Issues

Depression and anxiety are the two most commonly diagnosed mental illnesses among teens. Disordered eating, personality disorders, and substance-use disorders are also common.

Depression

Major depression affects everyone differently. However, it is typically marked by overwhelming and pervasive feelings of sadness, which can impair one’s ability to concentrate or engage in everyday activities. Recent data shows an excess of 11% of adolescents and teens report experiencing at least one major depressive episode within the last year. Also, the rate of young people with depression has increased year over year since 2012.   Today, depression and bipolar disorder affect approximately 14% of teens between ages thirteen and seventeen. 

It is important to note there are gender differences pertaining to depression diagnoses. Teen girls are more than two times more likely to experience depression than boys of the same age group. 

Anxiety

Anxiety disorders are also common among teens. Approximately one in three teens meet the criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM-5) by the time they reach age eighteen. There are several types of anxiety disorders, but phobias and separation disorders are those seen most often. Like depression, anxiety disorders are also more common in females than males.

Eating Disorders

The most common eating disorders seen in teens ages thirteen to eighteen are Anorexia, Bulimia, and Binge-eating disorder. Although adolescent girls are at a higher risk, almost three percent of teens will be diagnosed with an eating disorder. Depending on the severity of the disorder, treatment is essential, as life-threatening medical conditions can result.

Unsure Whether Your Teen Needs Help? Request a Callback. We Can Help.

Teen Mental Health Statistics 

Some statistics related to more common mental health disorders are presented in the above paragraphs. In addition to anxiety, depression, and disordered eating, teens face a host of other mental health challenges, including substance use disorders, other mental health conditions, and teen suicide.

  • Approximately 40% of teens have used marijuana in the past year. An additional 14% have used an illicit drug other than marijuana, and 12% have misused a prescription drug.
  • 56% of teens report using alcohol in the past year. 
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 11% of American children have attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. 
  • Between ages fifteen and twenty-five, 100,000 adolescents and teens will experience their first psychotic episode. Psychotic disorders include bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. 
  • The rise in mental health disorders among teens has shown a direct correlation in the increase in teen suicide. Recent data shows suicide as the second leading cause of death among teens ages fifteen to nineteen. Only accidents outpace the current suicide rate. As recently as 2017, the Centers for Disease Control reported the suicide rate among teens was 10.6 deaths for every 100,000 teens. 
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of teens reported using alcohol this past year.

Drug & Alcohol Addiction in Teens

Teens who are struggling with the emotional difficulties brought about by mental health disorders will often turn to alcohol and drugs as a coping mechanism. This form of maladaptive self-medication often provides short-term relief but can lead to disastrous long-term impacts. In the short term, alcohol and drug use can help to mitigate the symptoms of hopelessness, anxiety, and other negative thoughts. In the longer term, chronic use begins to exacerbate these issues and often leads to addiction and dependence. In teens, experimentation often escalates to teen addiction at a much faster rate than seen in adults, and the progression from experimentation to addiction is more likely in teens with co-occurring mental health disorders. According to a study conducted in 2016, almost half of teens with a mental health disorder will be diagnosed with a co-occurring substance abuse disorder if their mental health condition is not treated.

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How to Help Your Teen Who is Struggling with Mental Health Issues

Having a teen who is struggling with mental illness can be challenging. It is important to keep in mind there are ways to make the difficulties less disruptive to both their lives and the functioning of the family dynamic. The first thing you must do is take notice of your teen’s symptoms. This includes paying attention to changes in mood, behavior, and emotions. Seeking treatment early is essential, as mental health conditions often get worse without therapeutic intervention. 

Other ways to help your teen include learning all that you can about their mental health condition, working with your school to ensure they are receiving the appropriate services, and working with your child to “find a new normal.”

Finally, treatment must be a consideration. There are many evidence-based medications and therapy models used to treat mental health conditions in teens. Choosing the right combination of treatments and post-therapeutic support is essential to the recovery process. The best treatment choice will vary from teen to teen. Even those with the same diagnosis will have different symptoms, needs, and objectives for their treatment outcomes. Don’t let mental health disorders ruin your teenager’s future. Consider treatment opportunities at an outpatient rehab center for teens, such as the Adolescent Wellness Academy.

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