About 1 in 5 adolescents report symptoms of anxiety or depression, according to a KFF analysis of a new federal survey of teen health.
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.
Data from the recently released Teen National Health Interview Survey from July 2021 to December 2022, reveals that 21% of adolescents ages 12-17 report experiencing symptoms of anxiety in the past two weeks, and 17% said they had symptoms of depression.
Female adolescents were more than twice as likely as their male peers to report feelings of anxiety (31% vs. 12%) and depression (25% vs. 10%) during the survey period. Rates were highest among LGBT+ adolescents, with 43%reporting symptoms of anxiety and 37% saying they had symptoms of depression.
The results of the survey — unique in that they represent direct responses from adolescents themselves, rather than from their parents or guardians – come at a time of heightened concern about the state of American teenagers’ mental health.
The analysis also examines data on the rates of adolescent drug overdoses, suicide and self-harm, by race/ethnicity and sex. It also examines access to therapy and the share of adolescents who report negative experiences, such as bullying.
While studies have documented rising mental health problems among adolescents in the U.S. for years, the trend was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since 2021, the U.S. Surgeon General has twice issued advisories about the challenges to youth mental health, including the threat posed by excessive social media use.
Among the other key takeaways from KFF’s analysis:
The full analysis, Recent Trends in Mental Health and Substance use Concerns Among Adolescents, is available here.
Also recently released by KFF are two related analyses: One takes stock of the latest efforts in the states to combat the opioid epidemic and another describes the supply and characteristics of substance use and mental health treatment facilities across the U.S.