One in six U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year, and half of all mental health conditions begin by age 14. Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), behavior problems, anxiety, and depression are the most commonly diagnosed mental disorders in children. Yet, about half of youth with mental health conditions received any kind of treatment in the past year.

How We Talk About It

  • Many mental health conditions first appear in youth and young adults, with 50% of all conditions beginning by age 14 and 75% by age 24.
  • One in six youth have a mental health condition, like anxiety or depression, but only half receive any mental health services.
  • Early treatment is effective and can help young people stay in school and on track to achieving their life goals. In fact, the earlier the treatment, the better the outcomes and lower the costs.
  • Unfortunately, far too often, there are long delays before they children and youth get the help they need.
  • Delays in treatment lead to worsened conditions that are harder — and costlier — to treat.
  • For people between the ages of 15-40 years experiencing symptoms of psychosis, there is an average delay of 74 weeks (nearly 1.5 years) before getting treatment.
  • Untreated or inadequately treated mental illness can lead to high rates of school dropout, unemployment, substance use, arrest, incarceration and early death.
  • In fact, suicide is the second leading cause of death for youth ages 10-34.
  • Schools can play an important role in helping children and youth get help early. School staff — and students — can learn to identify the warning signs of an emerging mental health condition and how to connect someone to care.
  • Schools also play a vital role in providing or connecting children, youth, and families to services. School-based mental health services bring trained mental health professionals into schools and school-linked mental health services connect youth and families to more intensive resources in the community.
  • School-based and school-linked mental health services reduce barriers to youth and families getting needed treatment and supports, especially for communities of color and other underserved communities.
  • When we invest in children’s mental health to make sure they can get the right care at the right time, we improve the lives of children, youth and families — and our communities.