Topical Emerging Issues in AYA Mental Health

Topical Emerging Issues in AYA Mental Health Introduction
Topical Emerging Issues in AYA Mental Health Objectives


The state of mental health among adolescents and young adults (AYAs) has worsened over the past decade. In 2017, 13.3 percent of adolescents aged 12 to 17 (or 3.2 million people) and 13.1 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds (or 4.4 million people) reported having a major depressive episode (MDE) in the past year . In 2020, that figure rose to 17.0 percent (or 4.1 million people) among adolescents aged 12 to 17 and 17.0 percent among young adults aged 18 to 25 (or 5.6 million people), who had a past year MDE . According to the 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 36.7 percent of students had experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness in the past year, while 18.8 percent of high school students had seriously considered attempting suicide – both of which are significant increases over the past 10 years.

Between 2007 and 2018, the national suicide rate among persons aged 10–24 increased 57.4%. Between 2007–2009 and 2016–2018, suicide rates increased significantly in 42 states. AYAs are also exposed to interpersonal and relationship violence, with 1 out of 12 dating youth indicating they had experienced physical dating violence and 1 out of 12 indicating they experienced sexual dating violence in the past year. In addition, over 2.08 million (or 8.33%) of 12- to 17-year-olds nationwide report using drugs in the last month.

With the increasingly negative trajectories, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, emerging issues related to young people’s well-being have become even more spotlighted among state public health agencies, including Title V/MCH programming. In some instances, Title V programs have stepped up to lead responsive efforts related to specific challenges, such as increased youth suicide or substance use. In other cases, Title V has become more of a prominent supporting partner to assist sister agencies and organizations, such as a state Division of Behavioral Health, that are directly focused on this work. In this section, you will find frameworks, strategies, and real-world examples highlighting how Title V has been responsive and resourceful in addressing specific emerging issues or community crises related to mental health and well-being of AYAs.