[This article is part of a youth ministry series we have been writing about for years. Click the link to check out all of the other articles we have here.]
If there is one thing I hold our teenagers up as doing better than any generation still alive, it is their openness, willingness, and ability to talk about mental illness and good mental health. While they do not have it all figured out, we do not as adults either. So I want to make sure we educate ourselves with 12 facts to know about teens and mental illness, so we can have more educated conversations and better empathize with them about what they are going through.
For parents and youth pastors, you know all too well the struggle teenagers go through day to day. We as adults can say we understand, but for many of us, that’s 10 years or more ago. In that time, we’ve hopefully matured, but we have forgotten about the hardships of teenage life with school, finding your role in your family, having the pressures of what you are going to do with the rest of your life, peer pressure and social anxiety, and now living life within this pandemic and not knowing how to navigate it like everyone else.
How To Help Teens?
I always say the best way to start helping with something is to first educate yourself about it. The information below will get you started, plus share a lot of good resource websites for you to gather even more information and organizations to check out.
For follow up, I encourage all pastors and church leaders to check out our article on what to look for when wanting to refer someone to a counselor. There are things you could be doing now before you even need to refer someone later.
- 1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year. [NAMI]
- 50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14, and 75% by age 24. [NCBI]
- Here is a list of prevalence of diagnoses for those under 18
- ADHD: 9.4% (approximately 6.1 million)
- Diagnosed behavior problem (ODD, CD, etc): 7.4% (approximately 4.5 million)
- Anxiety: 7.1% (approximately 4.4 million)
- Depression: 3.2% (approximately 1.9 million)
- Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among people aged 10-34. [NIMH]
- Based on the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study, 10.6% of youth have had emotional abuse, 28.3% experienced physical abuse, and 20.7% experienced sexual abuse. [ACE Study]
- Based on that same report, 9.9% of youth were physically neglected and 14.8% were emotionally neglected. [ACE Study]
- 50.6% of U.S. youth aged 6-17 with a mental health disorder received treatment in 2016. [JAMA Pediatrics]
- High school students with significant symptoms of depression are more than twice as likely to drop out compared to their peers. [NCBI]
- The average delay between onset of mental illness symptoms and treatment is 11 years. [NCBI]
- 70.4% of youth in the juvenile justice system have a diagnosed mental illness. [NCYOJ]
- Annual prevalence of serious thoughts of suicide, by U.S. demographic group: 17.2% of high school students and within that group 47.7% of lesbian, gay, and bisexual high school students [CDC]
- Having another disorder is most common in children with depression: about 3 in 4 children aged 3-17 years with depression also have anxiety (73.8%) and almost 1 in 2 have behavior problems (47.2%). [CDC]
If you have more statistics that you think are important, share them with us in the comments below.