16% of the global burden of disease and injury is due to mental health conditions among young people aged 10–19 years. 1
Half of all mental health conditions start by 14 years of age, but most go undetected and untreated. 2
In the U.S., one in five teens (ages 13-18) lives with a mental health condition. 3
Young Americans aged 18-25 have the highest prevalence of any mental illness (25.8%) compared to adults aged 26-49 (22.2%) and aged 50 and older (13.8%). 4
Despite the prevalence of these disorders, the behavioral health care needs of adolescents often go unmet—only 38.4% of young adults with any mental illness received mental health services, less than adults aged 26-49 years (43.3%) and aged 50 and older (44.2%). 5
The consequences of not addressing adolescent mental health conditions extend to adulthood, impairing both physical and mental well-being and limiting opportunities to lead fulfilling lives as adults.
Our existing behavioral health care system for adolescents and young adults is fragmented and lacks continuity of care among schools/communities/families, as well as coordination of services in the systems of education/foster care/substance abuse/juvenile justice/vocational development.
Rising rates of suicide, especially among black youth
Globally, depression is one of the leading causes of illness and disability among adolescents, with suicide now the third leading cause of death in 15-19-year-olds. 6
In the U.S., suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people aged 15 to 24. 7
Among Americans aged 10 to 24, the suicide rate increased 25% from 2017 to 2019. 8
Among all U.S. youth ages 10 to 24, suicidal thoughts and plans dropped between 1991 and 2017, but among black youth, suicidal attempts increased by 73%. 9
Pervasive structural inequities and social determinants of health, including racism, poverty, violence, education, housing, employment and nutrition, may be driving these numbers for youth of color.
Kessler RC, Angermeyer M, Anthony JC, et al. Lifetime prevalence and age-of-onset distributions of mental disorders in the World Health Organization’s World Mental Health Survey Initiative. World Psychiatry 2007; 6: 168–76.