Teenage Mental Health Statistics

Teenagers in America are dealing with increasing amounts of societal stress, daily pressures, and global concerns (e.g., COVID-19), on top of the typical challenges of adolescence. These challenges are impacting the overall mental health in a large number of teenagers, something that we must not take lightly. Continue reading to learn some recent statistics on teenage mental health in America, as well as what we can do to support the teenagers in our lives.

What is Mental Health?

Before we share statistics surrounding mental health, it is important that we understand what mental health is. According to the CDC, mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well being. The state of our mental health directly impacts our relationships, how we handle stress, and overall wellness. A person’s mental health is not stagnant; it can change based on environment, interpersonal relationships, stress, trauma, illness, and more. At Lucero Wellbeing, we care about every individual’s mental health.

Teenage Mental Health Statistics

  • The most common mental illnesses in adolescents are anxiety, mood, attention, and behavior disorders. (Source)
  • At least one in five youth aged 9–17 years currently has a diagnosable mental health disorder that causes some degree of impairment; one in 10 has a disorder that causes significant impairment. (Source)
  • In 2020, 12% of U.S. children aged 3 to 17 were reported as having ever experienced anxiety or depression, up from 9% in 2016. (Source)
  • If left untreated, childhood depression is more likely to persist into adulthood. (Source)
  • In addition to rising levels of anxiety and depression, the child and teen death rate increased to 28 deaths per 100,000 people ages 1 to 19—the highest rates seen since 2008. (Source)
  • Over 15% of youth experienced a major depressive episode in the past year, up over a percent from last year. While a percent may seem small, that increase represents over 300,000 youth. (Source)
  • More than 60% of youth with major depression do not receive any mental health treatment. Even in states with exemplary mental health access, that’s nearly 1 in 3 youth who do not receive care. (Source)
  • 2.5 million youth in America have severe depression. This was highest among youth who identify as more than one race. (Source)
  • The number of youth who experienced severe major depressive episodes increased by 197,000. (Source)
  • Nevada and California are two states with both the highest prevalence of mental illness in youth and lowest rates of access to care. (Source)
  • In 2021, 44% of high school students reported that they persistently felt sad or hopeless during the past year. (Source)
  • High school students with significant symptoms of depression are more than twice as likely to drop out compared to their peers. (Source)
  • Over 18% of high school students have serious thoughts of suicide. (Source)
  • In 2020, there was a 31% increase in mental health-related emergency department visits from teens. (Source)
  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death among adolescents aged 15 to 19. (Source)

Whether or not you are surprised by these mental health statistics, most of us will agree that we need to do everything that we can to fight against these trends. Sadly, many teenagers struggling with mental health disorders do not receive any kind of care or treatment. For example, over 60% of youth with major depressive episodes do not receive mental health treatment. There are a variety of ways we can fight for the mental health of the teenagers in our lives; one of them is by encouraging counseling. 

Counseling Services for Teenagers

Counseling provides teens with a safe place to share their thoughts, feelings, and fears. Additionally, it provides them with practical tools to process those emotions and find their path to restored mental health. Counselors can also refer teenagers and their families to psychiatrists or other medical professionals if they believe that medication would be helpful.

Unfortunately, there is still a stigma surrounding counseling services. Many families and individuals think that counseling is only for people dealing with extremely serious issues or disorders, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. Everyone, regardless of age, gender, or background, can benefit from seeing a licensed counselor. One way we can help teenagers in America take care of their mental health is by normalizing counseling, encouraging them to speak to a counselor, and then supporting them when they decide to do just that.

About Lucero Wellbeing

At Lucero Wellbeing, teenage mental health matters to us. We are a private practice that provides counseling services to children, teenagers, and adults in California and Nevada, as well as in-person and telehealth mental health, career coaching, and psychological assessment services. Contact us today to learn more about our therapy services for teenagers and request an appointment.