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Concerning Trends in Youth Mental Health

February 19, 2024

The U.S. faces a youth mental health crisis, with about 1 in 5 adolescents reporting anxiety or depression symptoms, according to a new Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) report.

The KFF analysis, released this month, reviews the Teen National Health Interview Survey from July 2021 to December 2022. The report evaluates broader trends, care utilization, and unmet mental health needs among children between 12 and 17.

“While some teens are getting mental health care, a significant share say they are not receiving the therapy they need due to costs, fear of what others will think, and/or not knowing how to get help,” the KFF report notes.

  • Access to care:  About 20 percent of teens reported that they did not receive mental health therapy due to concerns about cost, fear of what others might think, or because they didn’t know how to get help.
    • Lack of needed therapy or counseling was more common for female (32%) and LGBT+ adolescents (38%)
  • Overdose deaths:  Adolescent drug overdoses doubled from 253 during 2018 to 722 during 2022.
    • Compared to pre-pandemic levels, drug overdose deaths rose more than fourfold among Hispanic and Black adolescents.
  • Key concerns:  About 34 percent of adolescents reported they were bulled, 17 percent faced emotional abuse by a parent, and 15 percent reported neighborhood violence during 2021 and 2022.
  • Screen time:  About 92 percent of adolescents reported about two hours of weekday screen time that was not associated with their schoolwork.
  • Quotable:  “Looking ahead, data on adolescent populations will be pivotal in understanding how to further address and mitigate rising mental health and substance use concerns,” the report said.

The KFF report is available to review online.