Youth Mental Health

Youth Mental Health

It is normal for children and youth to experience various types of emotional distress as they develop and mature. For example, it is common for children to experience anxiety about school, or youth to experience short periods of depression that are transient in nature. When symptoms persist, it may be time to seek professional assistance. While most youth are healthy, physically and emotionally, one in every four to five youth in the general population meet criteria for a lifetime mental disorder and as a result may face discrimination and negative attitudes.1 As with physical health, mental health is not merely the absence of disease or a mental health disorder. It includes emotional well-being, psychological well-being, social well-being2 and involves being able to

  • navigate successfully the complexities of life,
  • develop fulfilling relationships,
  • adapt to change,
  • utilize appropriate coping mechanisms to achieve well-being without discrimination.
  • realize their potential,
  • have their needs met, and
  • develop skills that help them navigate the different environments they inhabit.3

The presence or absence of various combinations of protective and risk factors contribute to the mental health of youth and efforts can be undertaken to promote positive mental health and prevent or minimize mental health problems. Youth with mental health disorders may face challenges in their homes, school, community, and interpersonal relationships. Despite these challenges, for most youth, mental health distress is episodic, not permanent, and most can successfully navigate the challenges that come from experiencing a mental health disorder with treatment, peer and professional supports and services, and a strong family and social support network. 

1 Merikangas, He, Burstein, et al., 2010
2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2011; CDC, Health-Related Quality of Life, 2011
3 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1999; National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, 2004

Updated: Thursday, February 06, 2014

Publications

Youth Briefs
Trained Professional and youth How Trained Service Professionals and Self-Advocacy Makes a Difference for Youth with Mental Health, Substance Abuse, or Co-occurring Issues

Statistics reflecting the number of youth suffering from mental health, substance abuse, and co-occurring disorders highlight the necessity for schools, families, support staff, and communities to work together to develop targeted, coordinated, and comprehensive transition plans for young people with a history of mental health needs and/or substance abuse.

Teen in a class room Coordinating Systems to Support Transition Age Youth with Mental Health Needs

Research has demonstrated that as many as one in five children/youth have a diagnosable mental health disorder. Read about how coordination between public service agencies can improve treatment for these youth.

Feature Articles
New Infographic on Youth Mental Health New Infographic on Youth Mental Health

View the new FindYouthInfo infographic on youth mental health, hear from youth about their experiences with school-based mental health, and learn about other federal efforts focused on mental health.

Celebrating Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day and National Mental Health Awareness Month Celebrating Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day and National Mental Health Awareness Month

President Obama has proclaimed that May is National Mental Health Awareness Month to help erase the negative attitudes and discrimination associated with receiving mental health services and spread the word that seeking help is not a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of strength.. As a part of National Mental Health Awareness Month, the SAMHSA is sponsoring National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day on May 9, 2013.

Happy diverse students Preventing Suicide: A Toolkit for High Schools

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently released a new toolkit that is aimed at being part of a nationwide effort to help the one out of every fifteen high school students who attempt suicide each year.

Diverse family Federal Government Releases Annual Statistical Report on the Well-Being of the Children and Youth

The report was compiled by the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, a working group of 22 federal agencies that collect, analyze, and convey data on issues related to children and families.