Adolescent Mental Health

Like adults, children and adolescents can have mental health disorders that interfere with the way they think, feel, and act.

Adolescence can be a difficult time for young people and their parents. Many adolescents experience changes in behaviors and feelings as they struggle to become more independent and develop a sense of individual identity. However, a number of adolescents experience mental health problems that interfere with their normal development and daily life activities. When untreated, mental health disorders can lead to school failure, family conflicts, drug abuse, violence, and even suicide.

Some mental health problems are mild, while others are more severe. Some last for only short periods of time, while others, potentially, last a lifetime.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), reports the following:

  • One in five children and adolescents suffer from mental illness severe enough to cause problems in their development and daily life
  • Research studies have reported that up to 3 percent of children and up to 8 percent of adolescents in the US suffer from depression
  • It is estimated that 2 million children in the US have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • Research studies have found that as many as 13 out of 100 adolescents may develop an anxiety disorder
  • Eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, are common among adolescent and young women in the US

It is important to know that help is available. Some mental health problems affecting adolescents require the clinical care of a physician or other healthcare professional. Most adolescents who experience mental health problems return to normal daily lives, if they receive appropriate treatment.


  • National Institute of Mental Health

APA Reference
Writer, H. (2008, December 29). Adolescent Mental Health, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, July 19 from

Last Updated: May 23, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD