Mental, emotional, and behavioral (MEB) disorders—which include depression, conduct disorder, and substance abuse—affect large numbers of young people. Studies indicate that MEB disorders are a major health threat and are as commonplace today among young people as a fractured limb—not inevitable but not at all unusual. Almost one in five young people have one or more MEB disorders at any given time. Among adults, half of all MEB disorders were first diagnosed by age 14 and three-fourths by age 24.
Many disorders have life-long effects that include high psychosocial and economic costs, not only for the young people, but also for their families, schools, and communities. The financial costs in terms of treatment services and lost productivity are estimated at $247 billion annually. Beyond the financial costs, MEB disorders also interfere with young people’s ability to accomplish developmental tasks, such as establishing healthy interpersonal relationships, succeeding in school, and making their way in the workforce.
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