NAMI’s Facts About Teen Mental Illness

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is a well known resource for families, parents, educators, and caregivers to go to for help with psychological illness. It is a private organization whose mission is to support those who struggle with mental illness.

As a resource organization, they often publish information about various forms of mental illness so that the public can become more educated, which in turn reduces the stigma that tends to come with psychological illness.

  • One in five children and teens between the ages of 13 and 18 have or will have a serious mental illness.
  • Roughly 11% of teens have a mood disorder (Depression, Bipolar Disorder, etc.)
  • Approximately 10% of teens have a behavior or conduct disorder (Oppositional Defiant Disorder).
  • About 8% of teens have an anxiety disorder (Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, etc.)
  • About 50% of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin at age 14 and 75% of cases by age 24.
  • The delay between the time a teen begins to experience symptoms and finally receives help is 8-10 years.
  • About 50% of students age 14 and older with a mental illness drop out of school.
  • Approximately, 70% of youth in state and local juvenile justice systems have a mental illness.
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death among teens who are 15 to 24 years old. It is the sixth leading cause of death among children ages 5 to 14 years old.
  • About 90% of those who died by suicide had an underlying mental illness.

It’s important for parents and caregivers to understand that teens can be vulnerable to mental illness. Although they may appear as though they are doing well in school or at home, some teens may still be suffering from challenging symptoms and keeping it to themselves. Of course, if you see a teen whose grades are dropping, who is isolating, or having trouble with sleeping or eating, these may be clear signs that a mental illness is present.

Because there continues to be problems among teens (such as suicide and self harm), there are many organizations who are doing their best to educate the public. Here are a few more facts on mental illness among teens.

  • According to the S. Preventive Services Task Force (a panel of experts who advise the federal government on medicine and health policy) only 36% to 44% of children and adolescents with depression receive treatment.
  • According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), more than 9 million children and teens (between the ages of 12 and 20) reported that they drank alcohol in the previous month.
  • Research shows that one in seven teens between the ages of 10 and 18 will run away.
  • According to the National Runaway Switchboard, on any given night there are approximately 1.3 million homeless youth living on the streets, sleeping in abandoned buildings, with friends or with strangers.
  • In the United States, nearly 20% of high school students report being bullied on school property. Typically, those who are bullied have an increased likelihood for poor academic performance, low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, sadness and substance abuse.

If you suspect that your teen is having a hard time with their emotions, thoughts, or behavior, contact a mental health provider today.

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