Youth Mental Health Crisis Shows Improvement

2 min read

May 12, 2023 – New CDC data suggests that the teen mental health crisis is improving, with year-over-year mental health emergency room visits declining significantly from 2021 to 2022.

While report authors stated that “the U.S. adolescent mental and behavioral health crisis is ongoing,” new data showed that weekly emergency room visits declined by 11% as of Fall 2022. 

“Multiple reasons might account for these findings. Many adolescents have returned to prepandemic-like school and community environments, which might have improved social engagement, reduced isolation, and supported mental and behavioral health for some adolescents,” CDC authors wrote. “Familial or other stressors might also have declined, resulting in fewer adverse childhood experiences, which are strongly associated with adolescent mental and behavioral health.”

Earlier this year, the nation focused on teenage girls when a different CDC report showed that, in 2021, 57% of girls said they felt “persistently sad or hopeless” and 30% reported seriously considering suicide. 

The new report combined data for all mental health emergencies. It shows that total visits were lower than they were in 2019 for girls. But for some specific mental health emergency types, visits remain high. The following types of visits were still showing more weekly emergencies among girls in 2022, compared to 2019:

  • Drug overdoses: 16% higher
  • Suicide-related behaviors: 14% higher
  • Suspected suicide attempts: 19% higher
  • Eating disorders: 57% higher

The authors also called attention to the continued increase of opioid-related overdoses. Among teenage girls, they were up 10% from fall 2021 to 2022, and they were up 41% during that time among boys.

Data used for the report came from medical records submitted by approximately 75% of all emergency departments in the U.S.

If you or someone you know needs help, dial 9-8-8 for support from the national Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. It’s free, confidential and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can also visit and choose the chat feature.