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Member Research and Reports

Johns Hopkins: Survey Data Confirm Increases in Anxiety, Depression, Suicidal Thinking Among U.S. Adolescents Seeking Mental Health Care

Nationwide survey data on more than 230,000 U.S. adolescents over the period 2005 to 2018 suggest that anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, and other “internalizing” problems account for an increasing share of the adolescent mental health burden, according to a study from researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Columbia University.

The study, published online March 25 in JAMA Psychiatry, also found that the percentage of adolescent girls seeking mental health care each year rose significantly during the period, as did the use of outpatient mental health care services by adolescent girls.

Much of what is known about rates of depression and other mental health problems among U.S. adolescents comes from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey of Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), an annual nationwide survey of tens of thousands of Americans age 12 and up.

In the new study, Dr. Ramin Mojtabai, a professor in the Bloomberg School’s department of mental health and the study’s lead author, and co-author Dr. Mark Olfson, of Columbia University’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, examined long-term trends in NSDUH data on adolescents with an analysis of survey data from January 1, 2005 to December 31, 2018. During the 2005 to 2018 period, 203,070 adolescents had been interviewed, and of these 47,090 (19.7 percent) reported prior-year treatment or counseling for mental health problems.

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