10 Trends in Adolescent Mental Health for 2017

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Mental health is becoming an increasingly important issue for people of all ages. However, some of the most serious statistics are those involving young people. As the rapidly changing health field continues to address these issues, professionals are pointing out trends in adolescent mental health, from ways children express their emotions to the need for residential treatment programs for teens. Below, we’re looking at 10 of the top trends and statistics for 2017 and how they affect the mental health industry and how teen treatment centers can aid in the process.

1. Teen mental health issues are rising, but treatment options aren’t improving at a corresponding rate.

Data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows that the rise in teen depression is not being met by an increase in mental health services or positive changes in the type of services being provided. Many adolescents struggling with mental health are being put on medications or being introduced to intense programs. Outpatient and residential treatment programs for teens, many of them involving medications, are being used in place of social services and services provided in schools, which are lacking due to financial cuts in many districts. 

2. About 10% of adolescents, ages 12-17, have experienced an episode of depression.

A major depressive episode is defined as being in a depressed state for over two weeks. Those experiencing an episode may suffer from anxiety, a hopeless feeling, feelings of guilt, problems with concentrating, changes in appetite, and insomnia, along with other symptoms. According to a report from Mental Health America, 10% of teens have admitted to having at least one of these serious episodes within the past year. 

3. Many children are not receiving the mental health support they need. 

Of those adolescents who suffer from mental health issues, 80% are not receiving adequate help for their issues. While there are many options available, including counseling and residential teen treatment centers, those options aren’t available to many teens for a variety of reasons including location, and lack of awareness about programs, and resistance to seeking help.

4. Cost continues to be a barrier between teens with mental health issues and the treatment they need.

Cost is one of the major factors in adolescents not receiving the care they need to overcome mental health issues. Residential treatment programs for teens are extremely effective in most cases, but those programs also come with a high price tag. Unfortunately, many insurance programs still don’t offer mental health coverage, making those programs unattainable for a large portion of teens.

5. Colleges are meeting the needs of those dealing with depression in their youth.

As the number of adolescents dealing with depression continues to rise, colleges are stepping up by providing treatment options and programs to help students. Parents who are concerned about their child’s continuing recovery or treatment after leaving the home should be in contact with the college’s mental health services office. Often, there are counselors on campus along with other services like support groups.

6. Mental health issues in teens correlate with high crime rates.

Unsurprisingly, the geographic locations with higher crime rates and other negative aspects are also the areas where adolescent mental health issues are most prevalent. For example, Vermont has a low crime rate, and low instances of homelessness and domestic violence, and has a low rate of adolescent mental health issues. On the other hand, Louisiana has a higher crime rate and more social issues like a high poverty level, and has a higher amount of mental health issues in youth.

7. Improvements in education standards will positively impact adolescent mental health.

Good Therapy notes that access to a good education system is key in preventing or addressing mental health issues in children and teens. An education system should have the proper resources, including monetary support and adequate supplies, to provide children with the education they need. Quality teachers and administration is also a key factor, especially in schools without counseling services available. When students feel validated, heard, and understood, they’ll be much more likely to reach out for help and support when it’s needed. 

8. Early intervention can prevent severe depression in older adolescents.

A study from the University of Cambridge shows that adolescents at age 14 who have access to mental health care are significantly less likely to suffer from more severe depression symptoms than those 14 year olds without the same access to mental health services. The study proves that actively participating in programs and other services for just a few years at this point in life can have a dramatically positive effect on most youth. The important take away from the study is that pinpointing the issue early and getting young children involved in programs at a young age is an effective way to reduce mental health issues in adults. 

9. Social media may be able to temper some negative effects of depression.

In previous years, studies have shown the correlation between time spent by teens playing video games and the likelihood of those teens developing symptoms of depression. Now, studies are showing that social media can have a positive impact that fights against that. In a study from Johns Hopkins, researchers looked at teens who spend at least four hours per day playing video games. While those adolescents might show signs of a mental health problem, if the games contain an element of working with others, it can lessen the negative effects. This could mean several individuals playing the game in the same room together, or chatting online while playing the same game.

10. Technology continues to be a strong tool for those suffering with mental health issues.

Apps and other tech tools continue to be an excellent source of mental health help for adolescents in 2017. From depression to eating disorders, there are apps to help youth deal with many of the problems their age group faces. A quick search offers options to help with meditation, counseling services via text message, and mood trackers. Many organizations are developing apps to help adolescents gather the resources they may need to seek help and find health professionals.