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Each new school year brings a mixture of emotions for students, whether they are heading off to pre-school through post-graduate studies. They may mourn the end of summer but look forward to seeing friends. They may be excited about new challenges but worry about academic pressure and peer pressure. As developing minds process these emotions, they often complicate emerging or ongoing behavioral health issues. Given that one-half of mental illnesses begin before age 14 and three quarters before age 25, it is critical, therefore, for students to have access to high-quality behavioral health services.
Depression among youth is a serious problem that is becoming more widespread. According to SAMHSA’s most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), depression is increasing among young adults and adolescents. The NSDUH found that the percentage of youth aged 18-25 who reported a major depressive episode in the previous year increased from 8.3 percent in 2011 to 9.3 percent in 2014. Even more concerning, the percentage of youth aged 12-17 with depression increased from 8.2 percent to 11.4 percent in the same time period.
Over five million 14-to-24-year-olds in the U.S. are out of school and not working. In many cases, they face the additional challenges of being low-income, homeless, in foster care, or involved in the justice system. Today, in response, five federal agencies are coming together to offer communities support in overcoming the obstacles they face in achieving better outcomes for “disconnected youth,” and those at risk of becoming disconnected.