The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a major toll on the mental health of young people. The rapid spread of the virus and subsequent lockdown, closure of in-person classes, physical distancing and loss of social connection have been difficult for many adolescents to cope with.
Using a database of billions of private insurance claims, researchers with FAIR Health found that people aged 13 to 22 used mental health services much more often in 2020 than in pre-pandemic 2019. This was most pronounced for teens aged 13 to 18, whose mental health claims nearly doubled over the first months of the pandemic.
Beyond the increase in visits connected to mental health concerns like depression, anxiety, and substance use disorder, claims for intentional self-harm and overdoses increased by over 90%.
The Census Bureau also highlighted a pandemic-related increase in mental health issues across the U.S. In their Household Pulse Survey, they found the number of people with depression or anxiety symptoms quadrupled since the pandemic began. In addition, 56% of young adults aged 18 to 24 reported symptoms of depression in December 2020, and more than a quarter reported suicidal feelings.
When a teen is mentally healthy, they will:
This doesn’t mean they won’t experience the ups and downs of life. However, their resilience and coping abilities should prevent life’s challenges from causing too much damage or interfering with day-to-day functioning.
Teens can also experience the full range of mental health issues, though many of them go undiagnosed and untreated. According to the World Health Organization:
Not all teens who struggle with their mental health have a diagnosable mental disorder.
A mental disorder must meet specific criteria that persist over a specified time period, interfere with their everyday life and impact their thinking, emotions or behavior.
There isn’t a clear or single cause of mental disorders, but there are risk factors. These can include:
Common mental disorders that teens experience include:
General moodiness can be a normal part of a teenager’s development. However, mood issues can also be an indication of something more. While it’s not always easy to tell the difference, there are several common signs that tend to show up with each mental disorder.
Teen mental health is a serious issue in Ohio, where suicide is the second leading cause of death for teens aged 14 to 18. The teen suicide rate is the highest in the Appalachian area, but 37 of the 88 counties in Ohio have suicide rates that are above the national average.
In 2019, one-third of public and private high school students in the state reported feeling so sad or hopeless that they stopped engaging in activities that they normally do. That same year, more than 4,000 people died of an unintentional drug overdose in Ohio. Considering the nationwide trends, these numbers have likely risen during the pandemic.
If your teen is struggling with substance use and a co-occurring mental health disorder, treatment is available. Reach out today to speak to one of our caring representatives and learn more about options that can work well for your child’s situation.
The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.