American Teens Struggling With Mental Health Issues

-- Robert Preidt
HealthDay News

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WEDNESDAY, March 25, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Rates of anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts are all on the rise among U.S. teens, a new study finds.

"We aren't sure why this is occurring, but it is clear from this evidence and other epidemiological studies that anxiety, depression and other internalizing problems are becoming more prevalent among adolescents relative to other types of mental health problems," study author Dr. Ramin Mojtabai, a professor in Johns Hopkins' Bloomberg School of Public Health's Department of Mental Health, said in a Hopkins news release.

The researchers also found there's been a significant rise in the rates of teen girls seeking mental health care and their use of outpatient mental health services.

The researchers analyzed data on more than 230,000 teens collected between January 2005 and December 2018 in annual U.S. federal government health surveys.

Nearly 20% of the teens said they'd received counseling for mental health problems in the past year, and that rate didn't change significantly over the study period.

However, the rate of mental treatment or counseling among teen girls rose from an average of 22.8% in 2005-2006 to 25.4% in 2017-2018, an 11.4% increase, while the rate among boys fell from 17.8% to 16.4%, a 7.9% decrease. Most of the rate changes occurred after 2011-2012.

Meanwhile, rates of internalizing mental health problems such as anxiety, depression and suicidal thinking among teens rose from 48.3% in 2005-2006 to 57.8% in 2017-2018 -- a nearly 20% increase.

Among internalizing problems, suicidal thoughts or attempts increased the most, from 15% to 24.5% of the total, a 63.3% increase, according to the study published online March 25 in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

The researchers also found a 15.8% increase in teens' use of outpatient mental health services such as psychiatric and psychotherapy clinics. This went with a corresponding drop in school counseling services, and little change in inpatient mental health care.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more on teen mental health.

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