Youth Mental Health: A Reality Check

Youth Mental Health: A Reality Check

-By David Lawrence Centers for Behavioral Health (DLC) Community Outreach Specialist Jessica Liria, M.S.

Childhood, a period of simpler times…right? For many adults, the first two decades of existence are associated with thoughts of being carefree and adventurous. It was a time to play, have fun, and only focus on the present.

As we age into adulthood, life gets busier and more stressful; there are careers to build, families to raise, bills to pay, and so little time to do it all.

Sadly, the reality is that our youth today often do not feel the same positive thoughts about their upbringing. The mental health of children and adolescents is suffering. Anxiety, depression, and thoughts of suicide are far too common among our younger generations.

This is a time for everyone to pay attention, get involved, and offer hope. As a society, we must work together to ensure the wellness and strengthen the resiliency of our future leaders and community members.

A growing crisis

While COVID-19 has certainly placed a strain on youth mental health, the increase in related concerns was apparent well before 2020. David Lawrence Centers for Behavioral Health (DLC) operates the only Crisis Stabilization Unit in Collier County. This facility provides an immediate, safe place for anyone experiencing thoughts of harming themselves, or are in a state of crisis related to their mental health.

Admissions to DLC’s Children’s Crisis Stabilization Unit (CCSU), which provides these emergency services to individuals under the age of 18, reflects a steady increase in numbers served, year after year, dating back to 2013. During 2020, there were 550 admissions to the CCSU; that is 550 instances of a young person experiencing a crisis related to their mental health. And in 2021, that number increased to 885, or an increase of 61%.

The Emergency Services Center at DLC is available 24/7/365.

DLC also offers a special program for children that can help prevent crises from happening; the Children’s Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) is a voluntary day treatment program that offers a safe environment for adolescents ages 13 to 17 to learn healthy coping skills without the need for 24-hour inpatient or residential support. Click here to learn more.

Know the numbers

Here are some quick facts to understand what young people are experiencing:

•According to the CDC, 26% of high school schools experienced feelings of persistent sadness and hopelessness in 2009; this grew to 37% in 2019, and 44% in 2021.

•The Mental Health Association estimates 60% of youth who experience major depression do not receive any treatment.

•By 2018, suicide became the second leading cause of death for young people aged 10-24—this stands true today and led to the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Children’s Hospital Association declaring youth mental health a national emergency in 2021.

•The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports 1 in 6 youth, aged 6-17, experience a mental health disorder each year.

•3 million young people across the U.S. experienced serious thoughts of suicide in 2020 (NAMI).

•The National Institute of Mental Health estimates 32% of youth meet criteria for an anxiety related disorder.

•6,663 young lives were lost to suicide in 2020 according to the U.S. Population Reference Bureau.

•50% of all lifelong mental illnesses begin by age 14; 75% by age 24 (NIMH).

What YOU can do

Whether you are a parent, grandparent, family member, neighbor, church member, coach, teacher, or even a stranger, there are things you can do to support the mission in helping the young people around you.

Raising awareness and breaking the stigma is a great place to start. By acknowledging the challenges faced and looking for solutions, we can all take part in changing the staggering statistics. Encourage those around you to talk about their feelings to someone they trust, and to seek professional support early on. When signs and symptoms are recognized and acted upon early, the outcomes are most successful.

Anyone in the community can take a Mental Health First Aid training, which provides an understanding of common challenges, how to identify warning signs, and an action plan to feel confident when addressing concerns. Check out upcoming training dates and register by clicking here.

It is also important to know what resources are available in the area so that you, or those around you, can link with care when it is needed. DLC’s Children and Young Adult Services Center offers a variety of treatment opportunities to meet individual needs. Learn more about this Center of Excellence by clicking here.

Additionally, DLC’s year-long Mind Your Mind initiative, available at, offers a variety of free resources, positive content, tips, and activities for enhanced mindfulness and wellbeing for individuals of all ages, along with opportunities to support community mental health—whether at home, school, or workplace.


Jul 28, 2022 | Blog

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