Statistics & Stigmas: Why Mental Illness in Youth is Becoming More Prevalent

A patient brought up a very insightful question to me during group the other day, asking “Why do you think teens/adolescents are having more and more mental illnesses and why is it starting at a younger age?” I want to open this up as a discussion to all of you, asking: Why do you think adolescent mental illness is increasing – what could be the cause and why is it overlooked? 

Mentalhealthamerica.net says that ‘rates of youth with severe depression increased from 5.9% in 2012 to 8.2% in 2015. Even with severe depression, 76% of youth are left with no or insufficient treatment.’

I’ll start by giving my opinion, and this is exactly how I responded when I was asked the question without having pondering it beforehand. I was surprised that my answer was almost instantaneous; I believe youth are experiencing symptoms of mental illness because of social media, mainly. There is such a high expectation of what someone should look like, how they should act, the products they should buy, the workout routine they should have, what their relationships should embody, etc. At a young age, children are being handed phones and tablets that gives them all of these images and false-ideas of what life should be like, as if there is a correct ‘formula.’ As soon as their life doesn’t match what they saw online, self-esteem decreases, self-doubt increases along with feelings of anxiety. Another reason I believe youth is more prone to mental health conditions in today’s age is the overwhelming amount of divorces in their parents and general lack of support (even if parents are together.) How children and teens base their self-image is largely based off of support and recognition from their parents. ETS_slide

Other statistics about mental health and youth:

  • 20% of teens 13-18 suffer a mental health condition without treatment.
  • 8% of youth have an anxiety disorder.
  • 50% of students 14+ with a mental illness drop out of high school.
Resource: NAMI

Tell me what you think! 

1 Comment

  1. As a 19 year old with sever depression, I couldn’t agree more with the lack of support aspect. Everyone is always so stuck in their own problems that we don’t check on our friends and family members. I’m guilty of this as well, but I’m working on it. Beautifully said!

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