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Youth Mental Health is a global issue and a key area for non-profits

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In the same way that you can help protect a kid from the flu or a broken bone, you can also protect them from developing mental health issues. When it comes to a child’s physical health, we know the essentials—nutritious diet, exercise, and immunizations—but when it comes to their mental health, the basics aren’t always as apparent.  

The first “basic” is to realize that children’s mental health matters. We need to handle a child’s mental health just as we do their physical health by giving it consideration and care and, when required, expert treatment.

Adolescence is a period for young people to make a good start in life. Adolescents are increasingly experiencing mental health issues. Building strong ties and relating to adolescents helps preserve their mental health.

These protective ties may be built with kids by schools and parents, assisting pupils in developing into healthy adults.

Youth Mental Health- A Global Issue

Often, when we think of youth and early adulthood, we think about “easier” periods. For parents, it’s tempting to imagine that our adolescents are carefree, loving life and have no problems in the world. I wish this were always the case, but alas, it is not.

There has been a rise in the prevalence of mental health issues among adolescents, and COVID-19 is a contributing factor. In fact, in the first eight months of the epidemic, mental health crises among 12-to-17-year-olds soared by 31 percent.

Types of Youth Mental Health

According to the NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), 75% of all mental health issues manifest themselves before age 24. Yet, the transition into adolescence marks the onset of mental health problems for at least half of all youngsters.

Understanding the spectrum of mental health conditions is crucial for every parent. The knowledge that you are not alone is equally crucial. Statistics suggest that mental health illnesses are frequent in children, with more than 1 in 6 kids (ages 6 to 17) developing a mental disease every year.

Below we list some of the most frequent mental health illnesses among teenagers and young adults to help you get knowledgeable and better support your teen.

Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders are the most frequent mental health condition among teenagers today.

According to the World Health Organization, 4% of children and adolescents between the ages of 10 and 14 and 5% of those between the ages of 15 and 19 have had an anxiety condition. Anxiety disorder symptoms often emerge before the age of 21.

Anxiety disorders are more than just occasional nervousness; they interfere with daily life. They are characterized by an abnormally high level of anxiety or dread in the absence of any real danger. Anxiety in teenagers may manifest as:

  • Restlessness and irritability Constant fear or dread.
  • Fear of the worst-case scenarios.
  • The tenseness in the chest and rapid pulse.
  • Tiredness and stomachache.
  • Insomnia or regular sleeping problems.
  • Experiencing nervousness or restlessness.

If you are concerned that your adolescent may be developing an anxiety problem, it is best to see a medical professional. Anxiety disorders may fall under the categories of phobia, panic disorder, social anxiety, or generalized anxiety disorder.

Seeking professional help is encouraged for any of the following, especially in adolescents. Teens’ brains are still under development; therefore, it is crucial to address mental health disorders as early as they are recognized.


Depressive disorders impact 3% of the world’s population of 15-19-year-olds, making it the second most frequent mental health disease in this age group.

However, in the United States, around 13% of young people (12-17) had a severe depressive episode in 2020. In the year 2020, nine percent, or 2.2 million, of American teenagers were dealing with severe serious depression.

A depressive episode is characterized by a significant decline in mood, cognition, or motivation and repeatedly occurs throughout time. Teenagers and young adults who are depressed frequently feel helpless, alone, and unmotivated. These are some of the most often reported symptoms of depression:

  • Alterations in either sleep or hunger.
  • Inability to focus.
  • Decreased vigor and interest.
  • Lack of enthusiasm for hobbies or friendships.
  • Hopelessness.
  • Discomforts of the physical kind.
  • Thoughts of self-harm.

Depression may influence school attendance, relationships, and overall performance for teenagers. Particularly in recent years, owing to COVID-19, social disengagement may produce isolation and increase symptoms of depression in youth.

It is crucial for parents to act on any indications of depression and to assist their adolescent in visiting a specialist. Untreated depression in young people has been linked to problems with drug misuse and suicidal ideation in maturity.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Adolescents with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are not uncommon, and the illness is usually diagnosed early because of the detrimental consequences it has on academic performance and social interactions.

Experts now believe that about nine percent of kids between the ages of four and seventeen suffer from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). These kids could have trouble sitting still, become sidetracked quickly, and behave in erratic ways.

Common indications of ADHD in children and teens include:

  • Alternating rapidly between tasks.
  • Easy boredom under pressure.
  • Difficulty concentrating on work or paying attention to others.
  • Difficulty in completing academic tasks.
  • Challenges in doing rapid mental computations.
  • Difficulty maintaining a seated position over long periods of time.
  • Behavior characterized by excessive touching or interaction with all objects.
  • Taking action without thinking it through.
  • Excessive babbling and disruptive talking.

ADHD impacts a child’s capacity to learn and frequently demands innovation in school and home contexts. Your teen’s future success may depend on your ability to recognize and treat this illness.

Parents should also be aware that around two-thirds of children with ADHD also deal with a coexisting disorder. A learning handicap, a behavioral issue, or a mental health condition like anxiety or depression are examples.

Dual diagnosis therapy, which takes into account the patient’s history of both mental health conditions, is ideal for patients who suffer from both mental health issues.

Disorders of Eating and Appetite

A national study found that eating disorders were “far more frequent” among young adults in their 20s compared to those in their teens.

Although it’s more common for girls and young women to suffer from an eating problem, it’s also vital to understand that boys and men frequently go undetected.

There are numerous forms of eating disorders, some of the most prevalent being anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder.

Self-starvation for weight loss is a hallmark of the eating disorder known as anorexia. Teens who are battling with anorexia will deny hunger, refuse to eat, and typically exercise to the point of fatigue.

People with bulimia often engage in the behavior of purging. Those who suffer from bulimia binge eat excessively and then induce vomiting in an attempt to reduce their body weight.

In contrast, those who suffer from binge eating disorder (BED) tend to overeat, both in terms of quantity and frequency, leading to negative emotions like disgust and embarrassment. People with BED are not purgers like those with bulimia.

Risks of malnutrition, obesity, and early mortality are all associated with disordered eating behaviors, making eating disorders a serious health concern.

The death rate from anorexia nervosa, for instance, is far greater than that of any other mental illness. Therefore, having a system of early intervention for troubled adolescents is crucial.

Addiction Disorders

Adolescence is a time of increased risk-taking, and this typically manifests itself in youths’ initial experiences with substances like alcohol and narcotics. However, this is not necessarily just a passing phase or an attempt at experimenting.

Many young individuals have substance use problems due to drug or alcohol addiction. Over 4% of American teenagers identified as having a drug use issue in the year 2020.

Disorders related to substance abuse might vary greatly from one drug to the next. Substance abuse disorder symptoms can coincide with those of other mental health conditions. However, some of the most prevalent warning indicators of a juvenile drug abuse illness are:

  • Separation from loved ones.
  • Transient shifts in demeanor.
  • Increasing their participation in high-risk activities, including sexual activity, fighting, and drunk driving.
  • Building up a high tolerance to drugs or alcohol.
  • Experiencing cravings for alcohol or drugs even while abstaining.
  • Constantly feeling like they need to use something to get through the day.

Substance abuse and mental health issues, such as sadness and anxiety, often occur together, and parents should be aware of this. Co-occurring disorders describe this situation.

There will be around 17 million people in the United States who will have suffered from both mental illness and an addiction issue in 2020. A person’s risk of developing an addiction nearly doubles if they are also dealing with a mental health problem like depression.

Top 5 Youth Mental Health Organizations

Finding a professional who can assist is essential if your adolescent is experiencing mental health issues such as depression, an eating problem, or even prescription drug usage.

Suicide, drug abuse, aggression, risky conduct, and the persistence or worsening of mental illness are just some of the outcomes that may result from neglecting a child with mental health issues.

Therefore, adolescent mental, emotional, and physical health is best served by early intervention. There are many charity organizations that are working to support the youth mental health issues like:

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

In the United States, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) began as a grass-roots organization led by loved ones of those suffering from mental illness.

NAMI’s vision is a world in which all people affected by mental illness live healthy, fulfilling lives supported by a community that cares; its mission is to provide advocacy, education, support, and public awareness so that all individuals and families affected by mental illness can build better lives.

Read more about them here, donations are also accepted directly.  Tax receipts cannot be used on an annual Canadian return, this is US based charity.

Mental Health Innovations (MHI)

The mission of Mental Health Innovations (MHI), a digital mental health charity, is to enhance the mental health of the people of the United Kingdom by providing digital tools, support, and resources based on digital innovation, data-driven analysis, and the expertise of clinical specialists.

You can read more about Mental Health Innovations in the UK here. Tax receipts cannot be used on an annual Canadian return, this is a UK based charity.

Mental Health America (MHA)

Through advocacy, education, research, and services, the Mental Health Association (MHA) achieve its purpose to promote mental health and prevent mental disease.

Peers and their voices are interwoven into all aspects of MHA’s operations, and the national office and its 200+ affiliates and associates throughout the country strive every day to preserve the rights and dignity of those with lived experience.

You can read more about Mental Health America here. Tax receipts cannot be used on an annual Canadian return, this is a US based charity.

Rethink Mental Health Incorporated

The mission of Rethink Mental Health Incorporated is to change the way mental health is seen and addressed in our culture. When people work together, they can achieve great things.

Initiated by all, more individuals will feel safe enough to talk about their problems in public and get the care they need without facing prejudice or hostility.

You can read more about Rethink Mental Health here.  Tax receipts cannot be used on an annual Canadian return, this is a US based charity.

National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH)

There are 27 different institutions and centers under the umbrella of the National Institutes of Health, and NIMH is one of them.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is a $1.5 billion enterprise that funds research on mental health through grants to researchers at institutions and organizations around the United States and through its own internal (intramural) research effort.

You can read more about National Institute for Mental Health here.  Tax receipts cannot be used on a Canadian tax return, this is a US based charity.

Looking for a few Canadian Charities working in Canada supporting youth mental health here are a few to consider for your donation.

CAMH – Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

Progress Place Rehabilitation Centre – Located in Toronto and dedicated to providing support to people living with mental illness.

Children’s Mental Health Ontario – Inform public policy development about child & youth mental health issues – Advocate for sufficient funding to ensure children, youth and families with mental health issues get the right treatment – Provide training & other supports for member agencies Political Activities

Stellas Place –  Stella’s Place Assessment and Treatment Centre (the “Organization”) is the first comprehensive, integrated, community-based assessment and treatment centre in Canada developed in collaboration with young adults (age 16 to 29) with mental health challenges.

About the author

Circle Acts Team

United by a shared passion to make a difference, we're on a joyful mission: to spotlight the wonderful world of nonprofits, charities, and the incredible causes they champion.

Every article we craft is a labor of love, bursting with positivity and hope. We're firm believers in the magic of service and are constantly inspired by the countless unsung heroes working tirelessly for change. By donating our time and energy, we aspire to create ripples of awareness and inspire action. So, every time you read one of our articles, know it's penned with heaps of passion, a dash of joy, and a sprinkle of hope.

Cheers to making the world a brighter place, one story at a time!