Study Ranks Mental Health as Young People's Top Health Problem

More focus needed during developmental years, researchers say

TUESDAY, June 7 (HealthDay News) -- Mental health problems are the leading cause of disability among children, teens and young adults worldwide, according to a new study.

Researchers who analyzed global data collected in 2004 found that neuropsychiatric disorders -- including depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and alcohol use -- accounted for 45 percent of the disease burden among those 10 to 24 years old.

The next two most common causes of disability among young people were accidental injuries, most often caused by traffic accidents, at 12 percent, and infectious and parasitic diseases at 10 percent.

The researchers also found that important risk factors among young people that affect their health later in life include unsafe sex, alcohol use, iron deficiency and lack of birth control.

"The disease burden arising in early adolescence from major risk factors is low," the researchers wrote. "However, rates rise sharply in late adolescence and early adulthood for both alcohol and unsafe sex. For other risk factors that commonly start in adolescence, such as tobacco use, low physical activity, high blood pressure, and overweight and obesity, their contribution to disease becomes apparent only in mid- to-late adulthood," according to Fiona M. Gore, of the department of health statistics and informatics at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, and colleagues.

"Our risk factor data suggest that preventive strategies should adopt a life-course approach whereby the focus on the adolescent and young-adult years is prominent," the authors concluded in the report published online June 7 in The Lancet.

People aged 10 to 24, numbering more than 1.8 billion, represent 27 percent of the world's population, the report noted.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more about child and teen mental health.

Robert Preidt SOURCE: The Lancet, news release, June 6, 2011

Related Articles

Learn More About Sharp
Sharp HealthCare is San Diego's health care leader with seven hospitals, two medical groups and a health plan. Learn more about our San Diego hospitals, choose a Sharp-affiliated San Diego doctor or browse our comprehensive medical services.

Health News is provided as a service to Sharp Web site users by HealthDay. Sharp HealthCare nor its employees, agents, or contractors, review, control, or take responsibility for the content of these articles. Please read the Terms of Use for more information.