Adolescent Mental Health Facts

Last Updated on January 7, 2021

Mental health is important at any age; however, it’s of particular concern for adolescents and teens in the United States.

The adolescent and teenage years are arguably the most important indicators of a healthy and happy adulthood. Emotional, mental and physical development occurs rapidly during these years. This is also the time during which teens are most vulnerable to developingmental illness and behavioral challenges.

Parents and caregivers can best help children through this challenging time if they are prepared with an understanding of specific mental health risks, and strategies recommended by medical and psychological experts.

A Period of Rapid Brain Development

The rapid physical changes adolescents and teenagers experience during this challenging time are surpassed only by their mental and emotional development.

With the onset of physical maturity, hormones begin to course through their bodies, and they may not be emotionally prepared. This leads to a variety of behavioral challenges that have vexed parents for centuries.

Although many parents believe their child’s problems are simply a phase that he or she will outgrow, even the most innocuous of issues can transition to crisis level in a short time.

A Pervasive Problem

Research shows that approximately 20 percent ― 1 in 5! ― adolescents and teens currently suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder. In fact, most mental health problemspresent during this vulnerable stage of life.

Common challenges that emerge during these formative years include depression, anxiety, substance abuse, social development disorder and eating disorders, among many others.

Suicide is of particular risk for those who suffer from emotional disorders. Between 500,000 and 1 million adolescents and teenagers attempt suicide each year in the United States. In fact, suicide is the third most common cause of death for those ages 15 to 19.

The Importance of Seeking Professional Help

Left untreated, teen mental illness can have dire consequences. Unfortunately, many kids never get the help they need.

Approximately 70 percent of adolescents with mental or emotional challenges never get professional treatment. Many of these kids get caught in the legal system, occasionally landing in jail. Of those teens in the juvenile justice system, approximately 70 percent suffer from mental disorders.


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