Problems emerging early

About three quarters of serious mental illnesses first appear before the age of 25. This makes children and adolescents particularly vulnerable, especially if early symptoms go untreated. One out of every six California adults experienced at least four potentially traumatic adverse events during childhood—abuse, neglect or domestic violence among them. This greatly increases their risk of depression, anxiety, suicide and post traumatic stress disorder.

Over the past decade, the state saw hospitalizations for mental health emergencies spike more than 40 percent among young people.

Even as a growing percentage of adolescents reported experiencing depression in recent years, less than a third reported receiving treatment.

Too often, these young people live in communities that have few options to care for them. Programs that target early psychosis, for example, can be very effective—but only if they’re available.

“If you have a child or a teen in trouble, there are vast areas of the state where there is no appropriate help,” says Carmela Coyle, CEO of the California Hospital Association.