Have you noticed that teen mental health issues seem to be almost trending lately?
People — adolescents and young adults primarily — are casually dropping phrases like “I’m so depressed”, “she’s so bipolar” or “he’s so OCD” frequently in conversations now. While the normalization of these topics is incredible progress, when it comes to supporting and uplifting the mental health community this particular method isn’t the most beneficial.
A teen who makes claims of being depressed, when they’re actually just disappointed they failed a test, can invalidate a student with an actual mood disorder, and inadvertently convince them not to seek the treatment they need.
After all, if everyone is “so depressed” all of the time and seems to be doing just fine, what’s the point of getting a professional involved, let alone having to tell your parents?
The teen mental health crisis
In recent years, the negative stigma around mental health has largely shifted to sensationalism (which, one could argue, is still a stigma of its own form).
Though this has greatly helped to normalize the conversation around mental health, it’s also resulted in the unhealthy romanticization of mental illness. In turn, this has led to adolescents frequently misdiagnosing themselves and their peers and using unhelpful or even harmful language surrounding mental health, its characteristics and symptoms.
Despite all of the incorrect diagnoses that have popped up, there has, in fact, been a 40 percent increase in teen mental health issues in the last decade that’s still continuing to rise.
What’s causing teen mental health issues?
Childhood and adolescence (under 12 years old) are the most impressionable years of a person’s life. Any sort of trauma, abuse or other impactful events (whether experienced directly or witnessed firsthand) that occur during these years may not be entirely understood by a child and therefore isn’t able to be fully processed.
Oftentimes, the effects of these experiences begin to manifest in the teenage years, when the person’s emotional, mental and physical development goes through a significant growth phase. These childhood and adolescent experiences, paired with the normal multidimensional challenges that come with puberty, make a teen’s mental health especially fragile.
As a result, there are many factors that, when combined with either or both of the above elements, can lead to the development of a mental health disorder.
Some of these factors include:
- Imbalance in brain chemistry (can be genetic or influenced by diet)
- Environmental factors (home, relationships, school, work)
- Life experiences (bullying, athletic or academic failure, trauma)
- Substance use (prescription or illegal)
- Lack of sleep
Depression, anxiety and behavioral disorders (like eating disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, ADHD) are the most common mental conditions that develop among adolescents.
Teen mental health statistics
Most individuals struggling with a mental health condition are not receiving treatment.
Anxiety disorders occur in over 30 percent of teenagers in the United States, and globally, now approximately 1 in 5 adolescents are suffering from some form of anxiety.
Depression occurs in nearly 15 percent of teenagers in the U.S., with major depressive disorder (the most common form of depression) and seasonal affective disorder (“seasonal depression”) being the two most commonly diagnosed conditions.
Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) occurs in approximately 10 percent of teenagers in the U.S.
The most concerning mental health challenges for adolescents are depression, substance use and suicide.
Because it can be difficult to distinguish natural teenage emotions from mood disorders, we encourage you to reach out to our team to help you identify when your child might need professional help.
Find teen mental health treatment near you
When you suspect your teen might be struggling with a mental health condition, knowing what to do, how to talk to them and where to turn for advice, can be overwhelming. Let us help.
At High Focus Centers, we specialize in helping adolescents understand, manage and heal from various mental and behavioral conditions. It is our passion to support not only these young adults through these challenges, but they’re loved ones walking the journey alongside them.
Send us a message to speak with one of our qualified advisors and learn how to identify if your child needs professional help, and how we can help.