Mental health includes emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps to determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make decisions. Biological factors, life experiences, and environments all contribute to mental health problems.
- 1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience mental illness each year 1)
- 35% of individuals with mental illness started experiencing symptoms by age 15 2)
- Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in individuals aged 10-34 3)
Youth overall are resilient and healthy. There are however, youth experiencing mental health problems. Depression and anxiety are prevalent across the nation and suicide has become an epidemic. Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for people aged 10-34 in the U.S . 90% of those who died by suicide had an underlying mental illness.
Youth experience risk and protective factors that either increase or decrease the likelihood of developing a mental health problem.
Risk factors may include:
- Lack of behavioral self-control/regulation (individual level)
- Adverse childhood experiences, like child abuse/maltreatment (family level)
- Peer rejection (community level)
Protective factors include:
- Mastery of project and life skills (individual level)
- Consistent discipline (family level)
- Positive youth-adult relationship (community level)
Caring adults, such as youth development professionals and programs are protective factors for youth.
Not all youth can avoid developing a mental health disorder. Some will have short-term experiences and some will live long-term with mental health problems. Youth development professionals can learn how to be there for these youth by increasing their knowledge of mental illness.
Data and Information obtained from:
1)Whitney, D. G., & Peterson, M. D. (2019). US National and State-Level Prevalence of Mental Health Disorders and Disparities of Mental Health Care Use in Children. JAMA Pediatrics, 173(4), 389-391. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2018.5399
2)Schaefer, J. D., Caspi, A., Belsky, D. W., Harrington, H., Houts, R., Horwood, L. J., Moffitt, T. E. (2017). Enduring mental health: Prevalence and prediction. J Abnorm Psychol, 126(2), 212-224. doi:10.1037/abn0000232
3) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2017). Leading Causes of Death Reports. Retrieved from: https://webappa.cdc.gov/sasweb/ncipc/leadcause.html
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Youth Mental Health Education for Extension Series
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