Facts about youth and mental illness

Having a child with mental health problems can be frightening, but it is more common that many parents realize. In fact, according to the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI), up to one in five children ages 13 to 18 live with a mental health condition. Mental health issues can also affect younger children. While some behaviors such as withdrawing from family and friends, talking back or mood swings are a normal part of growing up, they can also be signs of mental illness.

Like any illness, the sooner a young person receives treatment for mental illness, the more likely he or she is to recover and the more treatment options are available. If you believe your child might be experiencing mental health problems, talk to his or doctor or teacher, or contact Highland Rivers Health at (800) 729-5700.

Here are some basic facts about children and mental health from NAMI, and below that, links to fact sheets about youth and mental illness.

• 20% of youth ages 13-18 live with a mental health condition
• 11% of youth have a mood disorder
• 10% of youth have a behavior or conduct disorder
• 8% of youth have an anxiety disorder
• 50% of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14 and 75% by age 24
• The average delay between onset of symptoms and intervention is 8-10 years
• Approximately 50% of students age 14 and older with a mental illness drop out of high school
• 70% of youth in state and local juvenile justice systems have a mental illness
• Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in youth ages 15 - 24
• 90% of those who died by suicide had an underlying mental illness

Read the NAMI fact sheet on youth and mental illness here

Read the NAMI student guide to mental health fact sheet here

Four things parents can do to help a child with mental illness
• Talk with your child’s doctor or pediatrician
• Get a referral to a mental health specialist
• Work with the school
• Connect with other families