Mental Health Disorders

Approximately one out of five adolescents has a diagnosable mental health disorder,[1] and nearly one third shows symptoms of depression.[2] Warning signs aren’t always obvious, but more common symptoms include persistent irritability, anger, or social withdrawal, as well as major changes in appetite or sleep.[3] Mental health disorders can disrupt school performance, harm relationships, and lead to suicide (the third leading cause of death among adolescents).[1] Unfortunately, an ongoing stigma regarding mental health disorders inhibits some adolescents and their families from seeking help.[4] Effective treatments for mental health disorders, especially if they begin soon after symptoms appear, can help reduce its impact on an adolescent’s life.


Check out these resources for adolescent mental health services:

  • SAMHSA provides the Mental Health Services Locator, an online, map-based program visitors can use to find facilities in their vicinity. Local organizations may be particularly helpful for addressing the mental health needs of adolescents in a specific community.
  • Adolescents (or anyone) in suicidal crisis or emotional distress can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.  Calls made to this 24-hour hotline are routed to the caller’s nearest crisis center. 
  • YouMatter is a National Suicide Prevention Lifeline site for young adults, complete with a blog where visitors can share your problems and get support.

Learn more about adolescent mental health changes and specific mental health disorders:

[1]Schwarz, S. W. (2009). Adolescent mental health in the United States: Facts for Policymakers. Retrieved February 16, 2016, from
[2]Child Trends. (2014). Child Trends Databank: Adolescents who feel sad or hopeless. Retrieved February 16, 2016, from
[3]Mental Health America. (2013). Depression in Teens. Retrieved February 16, 2016, from
[4]Pinto, H., R., Logsdon, M.C., Burant, C. (2012). Psychometric evaluation of the revised attribution questionnaire to measure mental illness stigma in adolescents. Journal of Nursing Measurement, 20(1), 47-58.
Last updated: April 14, 2016