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04-06 Depression: A teenage mental health crisis

Depression: A teenage mental health crisis

Teenage drinking is down, as are teenage pregnancies. But teenage depression is up, as are suicides. For those 10 to 24 years old, suicide is the third leading cause of death. These frightening statistics show how adolescent angst, depression and the internet can be nefarious things.

The state of teenage mental health

The Independent ran a story on depression and mental illness among young people in the United Kingdom. Across the pond, rates of depression and anxiety in teenagers have increased 70 percent over the last 25 years. A survey of teachers found 93 percent reported an increase in rates of mental illness among students; about 90 percent of the teachers believe these behavioral health issues are becoming more severe. lists the following as risk factors for teenage depression:

  • A family crisis (death, divorce)
  • Abuse (physical, emotional, sexual)
  • Arguing and acting out
  • Witnessing violence at home

The effect of modern technology and culture

Sarah Brennan of Young Minds, a mental health charity in England, notes research by her organization that finds children as young as 11 are worried about unemployment. They are also savvy enough to recognize technology is evolving at a rate that leaves them behind. She says, “We are educating young people for a world that is unlikely to exist in 20 years’ time and, arguably, not equipping them with the skills they need for the one that will.”

Brennan also mentions the influence of the internet. She cites cyberbullying and the mass saturation (and propagation) of images of the ideal body image. Throw in fashionable narcissism (i.e. the selfie culture) and the result is, in Brennan’s words, an “explosion in teen mental illness.”

Living in a material world

According to William Davies, author of “The Happiness Industry,” this unstoppable onslaught of visual media can create quiet desperation. He says in the Independent piece that when people get bowled over by external forces, they take it to mean they, not the forces, need to improve. This can lead to lead not only to feelings of despair but also of futility, which easily coalesce into depression.

And then came automation. Yale professor Bill Deresiewicz describes this new generation of high-achieving students as excellent sheep. He says they are haunted by the fear of failure but don’t know what to do or where to go. According to an Oxford study, American students should feel shorn of future opportunities. The study notes 47 percent of U.S. jobs may be taken over by computers. This new wave could eliminate over 700 specific occupations.

The pressure to meet expectations

Other factors contributing to young people’s malaise are the cutthroat world of academia and the pressures of getting into the right school. Students who do not score high on their Scholastic Aptitude Tests or other exams feel they have blown their one bite at the apple. Coupled with parents who live vicariously through their offspring’s accomplishment and the formula for unmanageable pressure is complete.

Sovereign Health Group’s adolescent program is here when the pressures get too great. The teenage years are difficult enough. Children – and these are children – can buckle under the enormity of adult worries, leading to depression. Contact our 24/7 helpline for more information.

About the author

Darren Fraser is a content writer for Sovereign Health Group. He worked two and half years as reporter and researcher for The Yomiuri Shimbun until they realized he did not read, speak or write Japanese and fired him. Undeterred, he channels his love of research into unearthing stories that provide hope to those dealing with addiction and mental illness. Darren loves the Montreal Canadiens hockey club and horror films and would prefer to enjoy these from the comforts of his family’s farm in Quebec. For more information about this media, contact the author at

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