Mental Health in America Report shows youth mental health worsening

By Michael Hernandez 

A 2020 Mental Health in America Report shows that youth mental health is worsening. This trend over time was in place even before COVID-19.   Thousand Oaks licensed psychologist Dr. Shannae Anderson is now sounding the alarm:  “We are just at the tip of the iceberg…we have a mental health epidemic.  What we have is a powder keg and the general population will not see the data for months, if ever.”

(Editor’s Note:  To see more on this Citizens Journal story posted April 24th go to:

Highlights of the 2020 Mental Health in America Report can be read below: 

Key Statistics:

  • Over 2 Million youth have depression with severe impairment.
  • Less than 1 percent of students in the U.S. are identified with emotional disturbance despite the millions of youth with depression with severe impairment.
  • Major depression in youth has increased 4.35 percent over the last 6 years.
  • Over 70 percent of youth with major depression are still in need of treatment.

Key Findings:

  • Youth mental health is worsening. From 2012 to 2017, the prevalence of past-year Major Depressive Episode (MDE) increased from 8.66 percent to 13.01 percent of youth ages 12-17. Now over two million youth have MDE with severe impairment.
  • Youth are not being identified as having an Emotional Disturbance, which can keep them from accessing necessary accommodations. The proportion of students identified with an Emotional Disturbance for an Individualized Education Program (IEP) was only 7.33 percent per 1,000 students in 2017.
  • More Americans are insured, but their coverage is lacking. The proportion of youth with private insurance that did not cover mental or emotional difficulties nearly doubled, from 4.6 percent in 2012 to 8.1 percent in 2017.
  • There is still unmet need for mental health treatment among youth and adults. Only 28.2 percent of youth with severe MDE were receiving some consistent treatment, and over 10 million adults still report an unmet need for mental health care.

(Editor’s Note:  To view the 2020 State of Mental Health in America Report go to:


Michael Hernandez, Co-Founder of the Citizens Journal—Ventura County’s online news service; editor of the History Makers Report and founder of History Makers International—a community nonprofit serving youth and families in Ventura County, is a former Southern California daily newspaper journalist and religion and news editor. He worked 25 years as a middle school teacher in Monrovia and Los Angeles Unified School Districts. Mr. Hernandez can be contacted by email at [email protected].

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