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All You Need to Know About the Mental Health Issues Plaguing the Texan Youth

Medically reviewed by: Dr. Peck
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All You Need to Know About the Mental Health Issues Plaguing the Texan Youth

Mental health is pivotal in every stage of life, from early years to adolescence and all through adulthood. As it encompasses our emotional, mental and social well-being and influences our feelings, actions, thoughts and how we interact with the world around us and face adversaries thrown at us by practical life. With the growing pressures of the modern age, teens and young adults are reported to be more prone to suffering from mental health concerns, and if gone untreated, these concerns can morph into graver illnesses that limit opportunities for people to lead fulfilling lives as adults.

After the recent global pandemic, the negative impact on the mental health of people all over the United States is exacerbating. In this piece, we shall take a closer look at how mental health conditions are plaguing the Texas youth and the USA, by extension. We’ll review facts about depression in youth (adolescents, teens and young adults), which is manifesting around us and how the available help is nearly not enough:

Mental health issues are commoner than one might think

As many as 1 in 5 U.S. adults undergo mental illness each year and some 3,347,000 adults in Texas are suffering from a mental health condition at present. Also, as many as 796,000 adults in Texas have been reported to have a serious mental illness. In February 2021, 43.4% of adults in Texas reported symptoms of anxiety and depression. It was also reported that Texans are five times more likely to be forced out-of-network for mental health care than for primary care, which makes it hard for them to find help. Of 839,000 Texan adults who didn’t receive required mental health care, 45.3% were held back by unaffordability.

1 in 6 U.S. youth (aged 6-17) suffer from a mental disorder. For Texas, the stats show that 314,000 young Texans (aged 12-17) have depression. It was also reported that 64.7% of Texans suffering from depression didn’t receive help in the last year.

Depression: One of the most frequently occurring and easily overlook mental health disorder

Major depressive disorder, or depression, is one of the more serious and frequently-occurring mental health disorders that negatively affect a person’s ability to think, feel or act. Depression in youth statistics shows that this disorder can lead to a variety of mental, emotional and physical issues. As per World Population Review, some of the symptoms of this condition might include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Feeling sad or dejected
  • Losing interest in activities
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too long
  • Feeling of worthlessness or guilt
  • Change in weight (either loss or gain) or appetite
  • Slowed speech or movement
  • Trouble thinking or concentrating
  • Increased inclination to repeat purposeless tasks (like pacing)
  • Thoughts of suicide/self-harm

Rising depression rates in youth

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) executed a study recently that cited that an estimated 21 million adults (aged 18-25) in the United States (which encompasses 8.4% of all U.S. adults) had at least one major depressive episode (MDE). A higher number of major depressive episodes were witnessed in adult females (10.5%), as compared to males (6.2%). It was also reported that individuals aged 18-25 were afflicted with the highest number of major depressive episodes (17%). People originating from multiple races were also reported to have a higher prevalence of major depressive episodes (15.9%).

These stats in teens are even more worrisome. In 2020, some 4.1 million adolescents (aged 12-17) – which represent 17% of the U.S. population of the same age – had at least one major depressive episode. This number was even higher in adolescent females (25.2%) as compared to males (9.2%). In adolescents reporting two or more races, the numbers of major depressive episodes were higher, affecting 29.9% of multiracial teens.

Leading causes of depression in youth: The risk factors to watch out for

Depression can occur at any stage of life and it can combine with other mental and physical health disorders if goes untreated. Research implies that biological, environmental and genetic factors play a role in the onslaught of a depressive episode. If you ask what are the major causes of depression in youth, these might be a few triggering factors:

  • Personal or family history of depression
  • Major life changes, trauma, or stress
  • Certain physical illnesses and medications

The recent pandemic has also caused the general mental health of youth in Texas to deteriorate

 Why depression is more prevalent among women?

According to the Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience,  the triggers for depression appear to be different in men and women, with women more often presenting with internalizing symptoms (higher sensitivity to interpersonal relationships) and men presenting with externalizing symptoms (external career and goal-oriented factors).

Women have also been reported to be more prone to specific forms of depression-related illnesses like postpartum depression premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and postmenopausal depression and anxiety – which are all linked to ovarian hormones. The study concluded that underlying mechanisms for the higher prevalence of depression in women remain unclear, which is why more specific treatments for women have not been devised yet.

Types of treatment available

Depression is a treatable disease, even in the most severe cases. However, an early diagnosis and treatment can help with effective disease management. As for the treatment options, one or a combination of the following treatment options can usually help people get rid of their depression:

  • Medications
  • Psychotherapies
  • Brain Stimulation Therapies or Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)
  • Natural Products

Challenges hindering mental health care provision in Texas

When it comes to mental health prevalence and access to care for youth, Texas ranks position 42 out of 52, depicting one of the highest prevalence of mental illness and lower rates of access to care). Despite having one of the highest mental health prevalence in all of the U.S. states, the access to care in Texas is far from being any level of satisfactory. Why you might wonder? Here is what the healthcare community has to say about the matter:

  • Primary care providers are not able to consistently screen for mental health problems like depression, anxiety and trauma. Moreover, even when someone is diagnosed with such an affliction, the available help resources are sadly equipped.
  • The system is being used up to full capacity, which hinders timely care delivery to families with children diagnosed with any mental health concerns.
  • Staffing limitations, high costs associated with training providers, problems retaining trained resources and other recruitment problems make it difficult to provide competent care to all those who need it.
  • Lack of proximity and affordability of mental health care are also two problems that keep people from getting necessary treatment. People either have to drive hours for their appointments or they find themselves without funds to sustain their treatments.
  • As per a report published by KVUE, two-thirds of Texan counties don’t have a single psychiatrist. NAMI Executive Director Greg Hansch also associated the lack of proper care provision with mental health stigma and the low ratio of insured people in Texas. He went as far as to say that the number of uninsured people in Texas is twice the national average.
 

Beyond treatment: Learn to be mindful of your mental health and tailor your lifestyle accordingly!

The State of Mental Health among Youth in the US-1

After looking at all of the data, it is pertinent to note here that an early diagnosis in cases of mental illness can save people a lot of pain and valuable resources. However, for earlier diagnosis, there is a need for greater awareness about mental health and to banish any taboo attach to seeking help for problems like depression or anxiety.

  • Try to get physical activity like schedule daily walks
  • Have an honest conversation with your physician
  • Keep regular sleep cycles
  • Eat healthy and on regular times
  • Regularly evaluate what must be done and what can wait, and follow through
  • Try to make interpersonal connections and talk to people you trust about your feelings
  • Postpone important personal decisions like changing jobs or getting married until after you feel better
  • Avoid substance abuse as it can worsen symptoms

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Source:

  1. Depression. (n.d.). National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Retrieved September 20, 2022, from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression
  2. Trivedi MH, Nandy K, Mayes TL, Wang T, Forbes K, Anderson JR, Fuller A, Hughes JL. Youth Aware of Mental Health (YAM) Program With Texas Adolescents: Depression, Anxiety, and Substance Use Outcomes. J Clin Psychiatry. 2022 May 16;83(4):21m14221. doi: 10.4088/JCP.21m14221. PMID: 35584196.
  3. Mental Health and Substance Use State Fact Sheets. (2022, April 21). KFF. Retrieved September 20, 2022, from https://www.kff.org/statedata/mental-health-and-substance-use-state-fact-sheets/texas/
  4. Albert PR. Why is depression more prevalent in women? J Psychiatry Neurosci. 2015 Jul;40(4):219-21. doi: 10.1503/jpn.150205. PMID: 26107348; PMCID: PMC4478054.
  5. KVUE (2021, October 22). Texas ranked last in access to mental health care in new report | KVUE [Video]. YouTube. Retrieved September 20, 2022, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CYc7zV88_l0
  6. The Fastest-Growing U.S. States Have the Worst Health Care. (2021, June 2). Harvard Business Review. Retrieved September 20, 2022, from https://hbr.org/2021/06/the-fastest-growing-u-s-states-have-the-worst-health-care
  7. Mental Health Access in Texas – The Rees-Jones Foundation. (2021, September 24). The Rees-Jones Foundation – We Serve God by Serving Others. Retrieved September 20, 2022, from https://www.rees-jonesfoundation.org/mental-health-access-in-texas
  8. Major Depression. (n.d.). National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Retrieved September 20, 2022, from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/major-depression
  9. Depression Rates by State 2022. (n.d.). Retrieved September 20, 2022, from https://worldpopulationreview.com/state-rankings/depression-rates-by-state