Adolescent Mental Health
Adolescent Mental Health

Adolescent Mental Health

America's Adolescent Mental Health Issues 

As it currently stands, America’s adolescents are suffering from a lacking state of mental health by the millions. Unfortunately, this issue remains an epidemic and is showing no signs of slowing down in the near future. In fact, according to Mental Health America’s latest research, teenage mental health issues are only getting worse.

Here are some quick facts about our nation’s current state of mental health (via

Youth with At Least One Major Depressive Episode (MDE) in the Past Year (By the Numbers)

  • 12.63% of youth (age 12-17) report suffering from at least one major depressive episode (MDE) in the past year.
  • Childhood depression is more likely to persist into adulthood if gone untreated.
  • The number of youth experiencing MDE increased by 175,000 from last years' dataset.
  • The state prevalence of youth with MDE ranges from the District of Columbia at 9.91% to Indiana at 15.93%.
  • Nationally, only 25.1% of youth with severe depression receive some consistent treatment (7-25+ visits in a year).
  • Late recognition in primary care settings and limited coverage of mental health services often prevent youth from receiving timely and effective treatment.
  • The state prevalence of youth with severe depression who received some outpatient treatment ranges from 39.7% in Minnesota to 12.2% in South Carolina

While these statistics serve as a mere serving sample of the adolescent mental health crisis in which we currently face, they offer invaluable insights into how mental health, namely mental illness, evolves and ravages those who become victim to a national emergency with little aid to assist them during their time of peril. Perhaps if more parents became more aware of the serious threat of mental illness, we may see statistics such as these finally recede rather than grow exponentially with each passing year. 

Having said that, this article was created with the sole intended purpose of informing parents of teens on how their child may be susceptible to potentially fatal mental health-related disorders that are easier to miss than would like to acknowledge. It is within our deepest hope that this article will help parents avoid accidentally neglecting their child's potential mental health issues, like so many millions of other young men and women who are largely un-or-mistreated for their highly volatile diagnosis. 

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Private Insurance Companies Limit Coverage of Mental Health Services for Adolescents (per MentalHealth 

Despite the enactment of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity law (MHPAE), private insurances have found subtle ways to limit coverage of mental health services. Insurance arbitrarily define what services are “medically necessary” and should receive coverage. A survey conducted by the National Alliance of Mental Illness showed that 29% of respondents reported that they or a family member were denied treatment because they were not deemed medically necessary. Additionally, the MHPAE did not remove limitations on patient visits and number of co-payments imposed by insurers.

Finally, contributing to a lack of coverage is the severed relationship between mental health providers and insurers. Many health providers refuse to accept insurances primarily because insurers continue to underpay them for their services. As a result, insured individuals are left with two options: costly, out-of-network services or no treatment.

The state prevalence of children lacking mental health coverage ranges from 3.2% in Massachusetts to 21.9% in Mississippi.

Early Intervention is Critical

As it goes with any type of illness, mental health disorders are most likely to be eradicated the earlier that they are detected and treated. 

Quick Facts regarding the widespread failure of emotionally disturbed teens receiving treatment:


    • Only .763% of adolescents who are clinically identified as having an "emotional disturbance"n (ED) actually receive an i
  • ndividualized education program (or IEP). 
  • Early identification for IEPs is critical for both the afflicted teen's current and future's sake.
  • IEPs provide the services and support students with ED need to receive a quality education ----- Studies show that a lack of formal education results in negative consequences such as low academic achievement, social withdrawal, unemployment (or inability to gain employment), and potential legal ramifications (eg. juvenile detention).

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Adolescent Mental Health Crisis' True Effect on Our Nation’s Youth (According to The CDC)

Alarmingly, even when not referring to typical adolescent depression (11% of all youth across the nation, 2.7 million), the latest data collected shows that "severe" or "clinical" depression has increased from 5.9% to 8.2% between 2012 and 2015.1 That's approximately 2 million of America's youth.

What's far worse, most mentally ill children fail to receive adequate treatment, if any at all. According to their report, the CDC states that upwards of 64% (more than 6 in 10) of all youth afflicted with such serious depression woe receives no or insufficient treatment.1 Most Americans in general still lack access to care for serious mental health issues, either due to the high cost of such care, a continuing unwillingness to seek such help and an increasing shortage of a proper mental health care workforce. You do the math. While the number of youth who need mental health care is on the rise, the services available for such care is on the decrease.

5.13%, or 1.3 million, youth today report having a substance use or alcohol problem.1 Experimentation? Self-medication? Does it matter? That's a lot of kids, and my guess is that number is the tip of the iceberg. The number of youth who go in this direction to either distract themselves from their bummer lives or to take the edge off their constant pain is highly likely to be a lot more than what self-reporting studies sh

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More children these days have health care coverage, but 7.9% of those who do unfortunately don't have coverage for mental or emotional problems.1 That's about 1.5 million youth.

Less than 1% of students in schools are identified as having mental or emotional disturbances requiring Individual Learning Plans.1 This shouldn't be right, but it is. Schools are in the perfect position for conducting early identification efforts, but it quite costly for them to do so. If so many parents can't afford to pay for the already scarce services their children so need, and schools, who are in the perfect position to both identify and intervene on the part of every child, can't afford to pay for such efforts, then to whom do we turn to make sure all such kids get the services they need?

And 50% of all lifetime cases of mental or emotional illness have shown to manifest by age 14, and 75% by age 24. Further, 50% of those fail and or drop out of school. Is it any wonder that suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death among youth and young adults aged 10-24?

Most Common Forms of Adolescent Mental Health Disorders

Mental health disorders, like most major illnesses, can have a majorly negative effect on how teens cope in their daily and academic lives. Mental health-related issues, however, are most damaging when it comes to the teen in question's relationships with family friends. If left unchecked, these relational issues can become indefinite, lasting well into adulthood and only successfully overcome after receiving adequate mental health treatment.

Below is a list of the most common mental health disorders. It should also be noted that just because the following mental health-related issues are prevalent, does not diminish their overall severity. In fact, the most common of all mental health disorders, such as anxiety and depression, are known to be the most devastating. 

  • Anxiety disorders (AD) are the most common illness to affect children and youth. Anxiety disorders can cause kids to be extremely afraid of things or situations to the point that it interferes with daily life.
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) makes it very difficult for kids to focus their attention. A child with ADHD is also more impulsive and harder to settle down than other children.
  • Conduct disorder leads children to be extremely aggressive and destructive toward other people, pets or property. They may also seem like they don’t care about important but basic rules, such as by doing things like regularly skipping school or running away from home.
  • Depression is a mood disorder that shows up most often during the teenage years. It can affect a child or youth’s attitudes and emotions, making them feel unusually sad or irritated for more than two weeks at a time.
  • Psychosis is a condition that involves loss of contact with reality, most often appearing later in adolescence and early adulthood. It can be seen on its own or with many of the illnesses mentioned in this info sheet.
  • Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder that usually starts during the teenage years, but in rare cases, it may be seen in younger children. Bipolar disorder can cause a young person’s moods to change back and forth between extremely high moods, called mania, and extremely low moods, called depression.
  • Eating disorders involve a distorted body image along with seriously harmful behaviors to manage food and weight, making it difficult to nourish oneself properly.
  • Schizophrenia makes it hard for people to think and speak in an organized way. It can also cause people to lose touch with reality.
  • Suicide often goes alongside other mental illnesses, often chosen as a means to end the effects of the mental illness it accompanies. Suicide continues to be the second leading cause of death among 15 to 24 year-olds.
  • Borderline-personality disorder is a mental disorder characterized by unstable moods, behaviors, self-image, and relationships. Episodes of anger, depression, and anxiety can last from a few hours to days, and even longer.
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The gravity of this situation of Ameria's youth is not lost on the experts in the field of mental and emotional health. Check these out online. Multiple organizations and agencies like the following are working on various solutions to resolve this great tragedy, including the:

  • National Insitute of Mental Health (NIMH)
  • Child and Adolescent Mental Health (CAMH)
  • National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMH)
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health (SAMH)
  • National Health America (NHA)
  • Mental Health Foundation (MHF)
  • World Health Organization (WHO)
  • and the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP).

What Separates Family First from Other RTC’s? 

Below is just a small sample list of how Family First differs from other residential treatment centers. 

  • The intensity of our clinical program
  • low caseloads
  • Our one of a kind, individualized education program
  • We have triple the communication with families than average treatment programs
  • Family First isn’t cash only (we guarantee our financial agreement and don't discharge early based on insurance payout - a problem with other insurance driven programs),
  • We are on the cutting edge of trauma-informed treatment.
  • Free referral management - when you call us, we work with you until you find a program that works for you free of charge. Most programs leave Medicaid calls or say "sorry we can't accept that." There is a process to finding Medicaid programs that we assist families with. Also, if the client isn't appropriate for our program, we find programs that work with the insurance we have been provided.

For additional information, please contact us now at (561) 328-7370 or email us at [email protected].

First and Foremost, Family First is Here To Help!

Family First Adolescent Services is here to provide help and ongoing support. We believe in early intervention. Treating the problem early can drastically improve the chance of a full recovery. Our adolescent program focuses on treating the underlying traumas that often lead to substance use. This is done within the context of the entire family. Additionally, we prioritize education as an integral part of program. Your child doesn’t fall behind in their studies while taking care of what is most important: their health.

Before seeking treatment for your child, it is important that you know what is going on in their life. How long have they been experimenting? Are they in danger of developing a substance use disorder, or worse, overdosing? Answering these questions is necessary in order to develop a deeper understanding of the situation – and knowing how to proceed.

As a parent, knowing the signs of teen substance use can help you decide whether or not your child is in need of professional intervention.

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