Adolescent Mental Health Treatment and Support
We all know how important early detection is when it comes to our physical health. Early intervention into health conditions can make the difference between life and death. This same concept holds true when it comes to mental health, especially when it comes to identifying mental health disorders in teens. By addressing possible mental disorders in adolescence offers the opportunity to intervene at an early stage, potentially preventing a much more entrenched illness in later years.
The statistics don’t lie. Youth mental illness impacts 21.4% of U.S. teens aged 12-18 at some point, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). NAMI reports that 70% of youth in juvenile justice systems have at least one mental health disorder, and that 20% of them live with a psychiatric condition.
Worse yet, suicide has become the second leading cause of death among young people ages 15-24, as reported by the American Psychological Association. In fact, more that 90% of children who die by suicide have a mental health condition, according to NAMI. All this leaves no doubt that adolescent mental health treatment should be considered a top priority.
What are the Common Signs of a Youth Mental Health Disorder?
Signs of mental illness generally are first seen in the early teen years. Half of all cases of adult mental illness are first detected after age 14, with 70% having displayed signs of illness before age 24. Unfortunately, there is often a long delay in obtaining adolescent mental health treatment—often well into early adulthood.
There is a distinct difference between occasional bouts of irritability or the blues—usually caused in adolescence by hormone fluctuations and social and academic pressures—and a mental health disorder.
To spot the signs of a disorder early, note the following features of mental illness:
- Eating habits change
- Sleep disturbance
- Argumentative and angry
- Has difficulty performing daily tasks at home or school
- Loss of interest in activities formerly enjoyed
- Displays a sense of hopelessness and despair
- Low energy, chronically fatigued
- Dwelling on things in excess
- Self-harm or suicide ideation
- Substance abuse
- Risk-taking behaviors
- Confused and forgetful
- Irrational worrying and fear
- Feelings of dissociation (detached, numb, isolating behaviors)
- Overly emotional
- Physical manifestations (aches and pains, headache, stomach distress)
- Hearing voices
How Mental Health Conditions Impact the Life of a Teen
The delay in adolescent mental health treatment has been shown to negatively impact all aspects of life, including social development, emotional well-being, and even physical health. Untreated teen mental illness can negatively affect academic achievement and/or lead to behavior problems that can derail a young person’s life. Mental illness or personality disorders left untreated often result in substance abuse, unplanned pregnancies, and criminal behaviors.
When adolescent psychiatric issues are ignored there can be a profound impact in all areas of their lives. They will find normal activities, like going to school or participating in social events, to be increasingly difficult, leading to withdrawing from peers and family. They may feel stigmatized for what they are experiencing, further deepening a growing sense of despair and isolation.
A teen who is suffering from early onset depression or anxiety should be evaluated when symptoms have persisted for over two weeks. By identifying these common mental health conditions early on, appropriate care—such as psychotherapy and medication—can be provided, diminishing the negative impact on school performance and social development.
Connecting You to Mental Health Services for Adolescents
Acquiring quality adolescent mental health treatment is critical for your teen’s quality of life now and into their adulthood. Call to connect to a Teen Treatment Program and receive a free assessment and insurance check, call (866) 644-7911.