Youth Health Mental Health

youth health mental

A person’s youth is a critical time for development and can have lasting health impacts. Getting help early on can prevent serious mental illness.

Psychologists are working to address these issues, from addressing barriers to treatment to studying the biological, social and structural factors that lead to mental health challenges in children and teens.


During adolescence, many risk factors can cause stress. These can include exposure to violence, poor parenting and severe economic problems. Adolescents may also be influenced by media and peer pressure and have high expectations of themselves.

Stress is a normal part of life and everyone experiences it. It can be positive, like giving you extra strength to perform a task or motivating you to slam on the brakes to avoid a car accident. But when it lasts too long, it can be harmful to your health.

Youth interviewed described feeling stressed over a number of things, including school workload and pressure to do well academically. Other major sources of stress were family financial difficulties, uncertainty around their future, and loss of school-related activities during the pandemic.


Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders. It’s a persistently low mood that can affect how you feel, think and behave. It can lead to a range of symptoms, including feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness and changes in sleeping patterns. It can also increase the risk of suicide.

Adolescence is a time of intense emotional and psychological highs and lows. However, for many teens, these feelings can be overwhelming and result in poor mental health.

A teen with depression may need more intensive treatment. This may include a psychiatric hospital stay or day programs. During these programs, teens participate in group discussions and activities with mental health professionals. They may also take antidepressant medications. They are then encouraged to develop positive coping mechanisms and a strong support network.


Many young people with anxiety feel they are different from others, and they are often ashamed to admit their feelings. This can make it harder for them to get the help they need.

They might have physical reactions such as sweating, fast heartbeat or a shaky voice. They may also worry they will be judged or find it hard to concentrate. They might avoid certain situations or activities, and this can lead to isolation and poor performance at school.

Psychotherapy can help. Some treatments include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). These can be combined with mindfulness techniques such as meditation. They can also use a drug called benzodiazepine, which helps reduce anxiety. However, this is only recommended when necessary.


Self-harm can be a way for people to hurt themselves as a form of relief from intense or overwhelming emotions. It can include activities like cutting, nail biting, hitting or spitting, but also eating disorders, over-exercising, drug and alcohol misuse, unhealthy weight loss or unsafe sex.

Having a friend or family member who self-harms can be very distressing. You can help by listening without judgement and encouraging them to get help. It’s also important to remember that they may be experiencing suicidal thoughts, so it’s important to keep them safe.

A good resource is Mind’s support for young people with self-injury. They offer helplines, advice and forums. Another is Alumina (previously Self Harm UK). This offers information and self-harm recovery resources for people aged 11-19.


Suicide has devastating effects not only on the individuals who commit suicide but also their family, friends and communities. It is one of the most complex public health issues that affect youth mental health.

It is important to know the warning signs of suicide so that you can get help for your child. These can include: becoming sad or withdrawn, talking about suicide or wanting to die, doing risky or self-destructive things, giving away personal items and changing sleep and eating patterns.

Some teens are at higher risk for suicide than others. These include: veterans, people who live in rural areas and workers in certain occupations like mining or construction. Having a close relative who died of suicide is also associated with increased suicide rates.