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Teens are especially prone to mental health problems, for three main reasons:

  1. Their brain is undergoing a reconstruction as they mature into an adult.

  2. Hormonal changes can throw their moods and emotions out of whack.

  3. They are transitioning from a life that revolved around family to one that revolves around peers, and in the process of this, just about every aspect of their core identity is shifting, which makes them extremely vulnerable and insecure.

As psychologist Jay Giedd writes, “Adolescence is the peak time of emergence for several types of mental illnesses, including anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, depression, eating disorders, psychosis and substance abuse. Surprisingly, 50 percent of the mental illnesses people experience emerge by age 14, and 75 percent start by age 24.” (Giedd, 2015, p. 37) Here are some facts and statistics regarding the state of teen mental health in America:

  • Around 5% of adolescents experience depression in any given year, and 20% eventually will over the course of their teenage years. (Cloud, 6-22-2009)

  • At around age 13 depression rates in girls skyrocket, becoming twice as common as they are among boys. (ibid)

  • After analyzing levels of anxiety measured among young people in 1952 versus 1993, psychologist Jean Twenge found that the levels of anxiety in the average teenager today are equivalent to that of a mental patients treated for psychiatric disorders 50 years ago. (Flora, 2008)

  • Fifty-percent of teens with a mental disorder will end up dropping out of high school, according to NAMI. (Painter, 12-4-2012)

  • About 14% of teens diagnosed with mental disorders were put on meds in the past year. Percentage with each diagnosis that received medication:

  1. ADHD: 31%
  2. Mood disorders: 19.7%
  3. Eating disorders: 19.3%
  4. Behavioral disorders: 19.3%
  5. Substance use disorders: 14.4%
  6. Anxiety disorders: 11.6%

(Source: Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, based on interviews with 10,000 U.S. Teens ages 13 to 18; Painter, 12-4-2012)

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