Adolescence is a time of several great physical, social, and emotional transitions that can challenge a teen’s mental wellbeing. Mental health concerns among adolescents have been on the rise for over a decade. Around the world, approximately 14% of children aged 10-19 experience a mental disorder. The CDC found that over a third of high school seniors reported ongoing feelings of sadness or hopelessness in 19, and 1 in 6 youth reported making a suicide plan. Further, the COVID-19 pandemic ushered in a serious wave of mental health consequences, with 44% of high school students reporting persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness.
Minority groups are disproportionately affected by mental health issues. LGBTQ+ students experience greater rates of mental health problems, emotional abuse by a primary caregiver, or attempted suicide than their non-LGBTQ+ peers. Additionally, the number of black students who attempted suicide rose almost 50% between 2009-2019. Other groups at particular risk for mental health disorders include adolescents who experience chronic illness, unstable home environments, intellectual disabilities, autism spectrum disorder, and other discriminated groups.
Mental health disorders among adolescents often fall into one of the following categories: emotional disorders, behavioral disorders, eating disorders, substance use, psychosis, and suicide or self-harm. All of these disorders are treatable with proper intervention from medical and counseling professionals, but schools, families, and communities are the best first line of defense by helping with early detection.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends looking out for the following warning signs of mental health decline in young people:
- Excessive sleeping (beyond normal teenage tiredness)
- Loss of self-esteem
- Abandonment or loss of interest in favorite pastimes
- Unexpected and dramatic decline in academic performance
- Weight loss/loss of appetite
- Personality shifts and changes
If a parent, caregiver, or other concerned adult notices any of these signs, contact the child’s pediatrician immediately to have a conversation about appropriate interventions.
Schools also play an important role in the prevention and treatment of adolescent mental illness. Research has found that “school connectedness” had a protective effect on students’ mental health during the pandemic. According to the CDC, “Youth who felt connected to adults and peers at school were significantly less likely than those who did not to report persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness (35% vs. 53%); that they seriously considered attempting suicide (14% vs. 26%); or attempted suicide (6% vs. 12%).” Connections between teens and caring, engaged adults in their lives are vital to their mental wellbeing.
If you or an adolescent you know is experiencing mental health difficulties, please reach out to one of our partner organizations for support:
- The Counseling Center of Wayne and Holmes County: (330) 264-9029
- ANAZAO: (330) 264-9597
- Catholic Charities Diocese of Cleveland: (330) 262-7836
Wayne/Holmes Mental Health & Recovery Board
We aim to improve awareness of and access to mental health and addiction treatment and prevention services in Wayne & Holmes Counties.
We provide leadership, support, and funding to community partners and agencies in the delivery of mental health and addiction prevention, treatment, and recovery services.
Our agencies provide addiction treatment programs, mental health counseling, suicide prevention programming, and more! Experience you can trust.