One in 10 children, as young as 4 years old, have mental health disorders. One in 13, between the ages of 12 and 17, have seriously thought about suicide. According to a new national survey, 560,000 children have experienced mental health disorders in the last year.

The staggering number of troubled children and teenagers is not only indicative of the gravity of the problem, but it’s also an indication that more services are needed to help young people get the support or counselling necessary to deal with their issues.

Revelations about teen mental health

In comparison to a similar survey in 1998, the innovative study reveals that fewer children now have ADHD, but more kids are suffering from depression. The study further indicates there is a high level of distress with young people. Another key revelation from the biggest study ever conducted on child and teen mental health seems to be the lack of awareness from parents.

Parents who were given a separate sheet to fill in resulted in 4.7 percent recognising the depressive disorder of their children. Meanwhile, the secret survey sheet for kids to answer came out with 7.7 percent. It’s a slight discrepancy that tells researchers that parents need to have the training and support to identify mental health issues in children.

Added pressures 

The biggest question to all of these findings is why? Why are so many children and teenagers in Australia suffering from depression, anxiety disorders, and suicidal tendencies?

The groundbreaking study was not able to identify the exact cause of the mental health issues. But the researchers offered the possible impact of added pressures for academic achievement and competition for placement in better schools, and eventually jobs.

The introduction of cyber-bullying could also be a key factor in the development of child mental health disorders. While the Internet has led to some good, its “free for all” nature has also created some very damaging results in kids and teens.

On a positive note

While the massive study has uncovered some worrying data about teen mental health and Australia’s young population, it has also indicated that awareness is higher for kids today. Recognising that there is a problem is certainly the first step to resolving it.

More children are coming forward with their problems. More teenagers are taking positive steps to seek the help they need, to manage their behaviours and emotions.

The study not only highlights the necessity of more services for young people. It also brings the discussion forward to developing a new mental health plan that focuses on this problem.

Depression. Anxiety. Distress. Children, at any age, should never have to deal with such troubling issues. But it is certainly good to know that when they do, there are accessible counselling services and sufficient support to get them through a tough time.

If you’re teen or adolescent needs support, please search our list of counsellors and psychotherapists that specialise in adolescent issues.