Mental Health Disorders in Children and Teens

Florida Psychiatrists

The conversation on mental health is so often centered on adults. What ends up happening is that children and teens are then overlooked. Many people aren’t even aware or don’t believe, those young people can suffer from serious mental health disorders. The fact is that in the US close to 20%, that is 1 out of every 5 children, suffer from some form of mental disorder.

Prevalence of Mental Illness

It is shocking to many people that mental illness is just as prevalent in children and teens as it is in adults. In youth aged 13-18, 21.4% will experience a severe mental disorder at some point in their life. For children aged 8-15, the estimate is 13%. By comparison, 18.5% of adults will experience a mental illness in a given year. No matter which statistic you look at there is no doubt that mental illness is a serious problem among any age group. Children and teens are often the ones that get overlooked.

Disorder Prevalence

In children and teens, there are certain mental disorders that are more common than others. Mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder aren’t common among the youth. That is mainly because Florida psychiatrists can’t give an accurate diagnosis of those disorders at such a young age. These illnesses also don’t tend to show up until late teens or older.

In youth ages 8-15, ADHA was by far the most prevalent mental disorder. 8.6% of youth deal with ADHA in a given year, followed behind mood disorders at 3.7%. Some people don’t think that children at such a young age can actually be depressed. The reality is that 2.7% of children suffer from major depression in a year.

Signs and Symptoms

It can be hard to notice the signs of mental disorders in children so young. They often can’t express what they’re feeling properly or what they say is dismissed. It’s important to notice signs of mental disorders early enough, though. The symptoms of major depression in children and teens are very similar to the signs in adults. Any changes to sleeping, eating or socializing behavior is a sign that something is wrong.

In children, mental disorders are often expressed by behavior changes. School performance tends to drop significantly. Parents and educators should communicate to compare signs and talk about next steps. Contact one of Florida’s top psychiatrists that specialize in children if you notice any signs.


Getting proper treatment for children and teens dealing with mental disorders is extremely important. If left untreated these issues can follow them into adulthood. Many adults often link their mental illnesses to childhood. In fact, half of all chronic mental illnesses begin by age 14. Untreated mental disorders can lead children and teens to drop out of school, doing poorly in school, developing substance abuse problems, ending up in trouble with the law, or committing suicide. The sad reality is that more than 90% of children that die from suicide have a mental health condition.

Treatment options for children and teens with mental health disorders are very similar to those available for adults. Psychiatrists typically recommend talk or behavioral therapy in addition to proper medication. At a young age family involvement in therapy is important for treating mental illness.

What To Do

As a parent, the thought of your child having a mental illness can be overwhelming. You want to do whatever you can to help and protect your child. If you notice any warning signs there are a few things you should do. Contact your child’s pediatrician or doctor to talk to them about what you have been seeing. They may be able to help you with recommended mental health doctor. You should also seek out one of Florida’s top psychiatrist for your child. They will be able to diagnose them and begin treatment.

Communication will become increasingly important. Work with your child’s school to compare behaviors and talk about how you can help them. Also talk with other members of your family. Certain behaviors might have to shift within the whole family dynamic.


When it comes to mental health disorders in children and teens it’s important to remember that these are treatable. A mental illness is not a death sentence. They can be managed and treated with proper therapy and medication. It won’t happen overnight, but never give up hope. Identifying and treating a mental illness while they are young is the most important thing you can do to help them.

Facts About Mental Health Disorders in Children and Teens

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