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Kids Health Information : Mental Health – Adolescents

group of high school kids walking into school

February is back to school time in Australia. As we know, when children return to school, some might face challenges and often school refusal might be indicative of other issues. Parents are busy and these days, mostly both parents work so any behaviour changes can create family disruption. The summary below has been taken from a presentation I gave in 2021, entitled Learning difficulties in adolescents are not all classroom related issues:

Some important statistics

  • Over 75% of mental health issues occur before the age of 25 (
  • 13.9% of children and young people (aged 4 to 17 years) met the criteria for a diagnosis of a mental disorder in the last 12 months
  • One in ten young people aged 12-17 years old will self-harm
  • One in 13 will seriously consider a suicide attempt
  • One in 40 will attempt suicide ( almost one per classroom)
  • One third (32.4 per cent) of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child deaths occurred due to suicide
  • Suicide continues to cause the largest loss of life of young people in Australia (36% of all 18-24yr)
  • Only 31% of young women and 13% of young men with mental health problems had sought any professional help
  • 50% of mental illness emerges in adolescence
  • Domestic violence contributes the most to the mental illness disease burden
  • More families are accessing specialist homelessness services due to family and domestic violence: up by 32% in 2017 c.f. 2013
  • The rate of children receiving child protection services has risen from 26 per 1,000 children in 2012–13 to 29 per 1,000 in 2017–18


Findings of National survey youth mental health 2015

Males more likely than females to have experienced mental disorders in the 12 months prior to the survey (16.3% compared with 11.5%).

9/10 young people with a severe mental disorder accessed support provided by the health and education sectors.

¾ young people with moderate impact problems accessed support.


Disorders that were most common and had the greatest impact on children and adolescents:

  1. Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) (7.4%)
  2. Anxiety disorders (6.9%)
    § Social phobia
    § Separation anxiety disorder
    § Generalised anxiety disorder
    § Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  3. Major depressive disorder (2.8%) 31.5% admitted to smoking cigarettes, using alcohol or drugs to help.
  4. Conduct disorder (Oppositional behaviour disorder) (2.1%)


Mental Health Guide

Here is a simple guide taken from the Royal Children’s Hospital website on adolescent Mental Health – Adolescents. View the guide here.

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