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As part of an on-going commitment to address the mental health of young people, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association has released updated statistics highlighting trends and disparities on youth mental health. This new data underscores a crisis facing America’s youth as well as the impact of COVID-19 on mental health. These preliminary findings support efforts currently underway across the country to drive meaningful solutions.
About the data
This data offers a snapshot of an upcoming, Health of America report to be published later in 2023. The Health of America Report® series is a collaboration between Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and Blue Health Intelligence (BHI), which uses a market-leading claims database to uncover key trends and insights in health care.
Updated youth mental health findings
- ADHD and Depression are the top 2 conditions adversely impacting health among young people ages 7 to 18.
- Anxiety affects at least 1 in 5 adolescents (and 1 in 4 female adolescents).
- Additionally, analysis shows that the diagnosis rates for most mental health conditions continued to rise in 2020 and 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Additional findings: Impact of COVID-19
- Rates of anxiety have nearly doubled for adolescents between 2017 and 2021
- Rates of ADHD and depression have grown 50 to 60 percent among adolescents in that same five-year period (These rates vary substantially depending on age, sex, race, and geography)
- Male children are more likely to be diagnosed with a condition (particularly ADHD and Developmental Disorders) In contrast, adolescent females are more likely to be diagnosed with a condition (except for ADHD)
- Youth of color and youth in rural areas are less likely to be diagnosed with a mental health condition
Mental health adverse events – defined as any emergency room or inpatient event occurring during the given year
- Adverse events are higher for youth of color and adolescent females who have a mental health condition
- 1 in 5 Black and Hispanic adolescents with a mental health condition experienced an adverse event in 2021
- 1 in 5 female adolescents with a condition also experienced an adverse event in 2021
*Cumulative prevalence rate is any young person in this age range in a given year with a diagnosis of the condition either in that current year or in a proceeding year going back to age 7.
*Cumulative prevalence rate is any young person in this age range in a given year with a diagnosis of the condition either in that current year or in a proceeding year going back to age 13.
These statistics follow the release of the May 2022 findings on racial disparities in diagnosis and treatment of major depression
A call to action
Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies are committed to leading efforts with more than 250 unique, mental health programs to meet the needs of local communities. These programs address multiple facets of youth mental health including awareness, integration of physical and mental care as well as initiatives that increase equitable access to care. Here are just a few:
- Educators learn to spot trauma and stress in youth
- Three ways pediatricians can partner with mental health providers
- Infant mental health gets boost through partnerships and early intervention
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is an association of independently owned and operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies.