Adolescents have unique mental health needs that require attention and support. These include depression, anxiety, impulsivity and risky behavior.
A youth’s mental health is influenced by several factors including the home environment, family life, school and community. These factors influence a young person’s self-esteem, social skills and ability to deal with stress.
Adolescents suffer from mental health conditions that can impact their lives and their ability to thrive. These include depression, anxiety and behavioural disorders.
A key part of youth mental health prevention is to prevent conditions from occurring in the first place. This means avoiding risk factors or increasing protective factors such as healthy diet, exercise and good sleep.
The main prevention strategies include universal screening for young people in schools and primary care, as well as targeted interventions such as social support, family involvement, community services and employment supports for people at high risk of developing mental health conditions.
Interventions for mental health promotion and prevention aim to improve an individual’s ability to regulate emotions, improve alternatives to risk-taking behaviours, build resilience for dealing with difficult situations and adversity, and promote supportive social environments and social networks. They are often targeted at vulnerable adolescents, such as those living in humanitarian settings, those with a chronic illness or disability, those who have been pregnant or had an adolescent pregnancy or those who have suffered from discrimination, exclusion or stigma.
Early intervention is a strategy that can improve the health and quality of life of young people. It involves providing support and treatment before long-term care is needed.
Several research studies have found that early identification of mental health symptoms can dramatically improve the quality of life for those affected. These interventions can be conducted by behavioral health professionals, community members, or both.
Shellye, a young woman with mental illness, experienced major improvement in her depression and anxiety after receiving treatment at an early intervention program. She credits this with helping her become a successful businesswoman today.
International innovations have emerged in recent years that aim to deliver prevention and early intervention services for young people presenting with emerging mental health difficulties. These services are often referred to as ‘communities of youth services’ (CYSs) and can offer integrated health benefits for 12-25 year-olds. These programs are being developed in many countries around the world, such as the UK, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Israel and the Netherlands.
Despite an estimated cost of nearly $12 billion per year for youth mental health care, three-fourths of troubled children are not getting the help they need. Hispanic and African American kids are the most likely to go without needed care.
Treatment strategies for young people vary and depend on a variety of factors including age, type of insurance coverage and other circumstances. They also include support, education and medication if necessary.
Emotional and behavioral disorders are common in adolescents, particularly anxiety and depression. Anxiety is more common among 10-14 year olds than in 15-19 year olds, and depression affects more than one in five teens.
In addition, some adolescents have a history of severe mental illness, making them more at risk for developing a disorder. Nevertheless, many youth can still recover with help. For example, individuals with eating disorders can learn new ways to cope with their feelings and behaviors through counseling or other treatments.
Teens and young adults are susceptible to a range of mental health issues. These problems may occur without warning and can affect their social, school, and family life.
Last month, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released a survey that found alarming trends in teen mental health. The data shows that over 40% of high school students reported feelings of persistent sadness or hopelessness, nearly double the rate of a decade ago.
The results are especially concerning for girls and LGBTQ+ teens. Among a sample of more than 17,000 teens surveyed in 2021, 30% of girls seriously considered attempting suicide–double the rate for boys and almost 60% more than in 2011.
To help youth thrive and feel supported, we need to understand how to create a supportive environment where youth can be safe and feel cared for. This includes providing access to quality mental health services, fostering relationships and building healthy behaviors.