Mental health issues rise for adolescents, teens and young adults

A key article for all to see appeared in The Charlotte Observer yesterday called “Mental health crises on the rise among US teenagers. What parents can watch for” by Laura Brache. Here are the first couple of sections, with a link below.

“’A national emergency.’

That’s what the American Academy of Pediatrics calls a recent increase in mental health crises among children and teens in the United States. ‘It’s unlike anything I’ve experienced in doing this for 20 years,’ said Gary Maslow, a child and adolescent psychologist at Duke University. Maslow joined fellow Duke pediatric psychologist Nathan Copeland and professor Sharika Hill in a virtual discussion Wednesday to help parents and caregivers help children and teens facing anxiety, depression, self-harm and suicidal thoughts.


More kids died by suicide in 2019 ‘than at any point in American history,’ said Copeland. In fact, suicide was the second leading cause of death among youth that year. ‘Among the 10 to 24 age group, suicide accounted for nearly 25% of all death among kids,’ he said. ‘And among … individuals 15 to 24, suicide accounted for more deaths than the next seven core medical causes combined.’ Those causes include accidents, congenital issues, homicide, and cancer, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. ‘The worst outcome is children dying by suicide,’ Maslow said. “That is happening, but that is the tip of the iceberg.” Just as in many facets of health care, Black youth were among the most impacted by suicide in 2019. ‘Where we were seeing things like systemic racism and how it was impacting Black youth, we were seeing that [suicide] rate increase faster for Black youth than for any other demographic,’ Copeland said. In Durham, Maslow added, Hispanic youth are also ‘presenting at much higher rates that we’ve seen before.’


Nearly 1 in 5 youth will experience pediatric mental illness during their childhood, Copeland said. People in this group often go undiagnosed and untreated for years, he said. It can take five to 11 years for a child to get treatment for mental health and behavioral issues from the moment they start experiencing symptoms. ‘For a kid that’s a significant 11 years,’ he said. ‘That’s a long period of time that a kid has been experiencing mental illness.’ What’s more, only 20% of youth experiencing mental illness end up receiving the potentially life-saving care that they need. Academic pressure and school in general also fuel “peer victimization” and bullying, Copeland said. ‘In Durham, what we frequently see or what we have seen is that when school starts, compared to when kids are on break, there is a 60% increase in rates of pediatric mental health emergency department visits,’ he said. Copeland said, before the pandemic, ‘mental illness was the most common cause of drop out in school of any disability group.’”

I encourage you to read the full article via the link below. And, note this is before the pandemic made the situation even worse. This is a key reason why guns need to be better governed and locked away. Homes with guns have a higher rate of suicide than homes without one. One impulsive decision and it is over.

There should be less stigma to getting help. We all may need it at some point.

Read more at:


12 thoughts on “Mental health issues rise for adolescents, teens and young adults

  1. Sad statistics, Keith and sadly they paint a picture which is familiar here, too. I worked for twenty years on the business side in mental health, a fair part of that closely with our child and adolescent services, and some of the cases were heartbreaking. The pandemic has only made a bad situation worse.

    • Clive, thanks for your perspective. I spoke with a friend of my niece and nephew who runs the mental health counseling services at a major university. She said this movement to allow firearms on campuses is maybe the dumbest idea she has ever heard. She noted students on college campuses have a higher rate of depression that in general society. Why? These kids are away from mom and dad are not realizing the burden to study is on their shoulders and some fail and fear disappointing their parents. Others think college life will be a nirvana, but social issues arise just like any other place, so depression exposure is amplified. A gun in that mix can be truly a fatal addition. Keith

      • To those of us, guns being anywhere near education is symptomatic of everything that is wrong with your country. The US can’t claim to be civilised until it gets rid of the Wild West culture that seems to prevail there.

      • Agreed. America’s claim to exceptionalism has always been made on less concrete footing. Now, it is even worse as claims are made on marshy areas where the footing is poor. Guns near education is just one example. Keith

  2. This is a bleak outlook which appears to be reflected in many parts of the world with a multiplicity of causes.
    Some are obvious, others are subtle and maybe a mystery to older generations, the term FOMO being an example… Fear Of Missing Out. A major worry to many under thirty and single, of missing out on some trend, fashion or latest social news.
    It is difficult to know where to start to repair the damage. Particularly as selling Fear or Suspicion is ‘good business’

  3. I just started a new job at a mental health office. All I’m going to say is the number of children seeing and calling for an appointment with a psychiatrist is alarming and heartbreaking. Even worse is the knowledge that 2 of the doctors had to close off to new patients due to overloaded schedules.

  4. Note to Readers: In a recent follow-on editorial in The Charlotte Observer, on top of a teacher shortage for the coming year, there is a shortage of mental health professionals working in the school system – both licensed social workers and psychologists. With this upswing in concerns for teens and adolescents, this should be a concern for all parents. These professionals catch a lot in their efforts, so having fewer of them makes a difference, not in a good way.

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