Teens comfortable talking about mental health, but fewer are actually doing so

NAMI/Ipsos poll: Most teens feel the world is more stressful now than it was for previous generations, want schools to support mental health

The author(s)
  • Mallory Newall Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Annaleise Azevedo Lohr Director, US, Public Affairs
  • Charlie Rollason Research Manager, US, Public Affairs
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Washington D.C., August 30, 2022 — A new NAMI/Ipsos poll of teens (ages 12-17) finds that while most teens report being comfortable talking about their mental health with those closest to them, fewer report actually doing so. Fewer than half say they talk to their parents about how they’re feeling, and just one in five say the same about their friends. As the 2022-23 school year commences, most teens think schools could be doing more to support mental health by teaching about what mental health is, providing information on treatment options, and providing days off for mental health support. 

Charts with headline, "Teens report being comfortable talking to parents/guardians about mental health needs, but fewer report actually doing so".

For more information about this study, please visit NAMI.org.


Detailed Findings

1. While most teens report being in good mental and emotional health, not all are faring so well. Roughly one in six say they regularly feel negative emotions such as anxiety, stress, or frustration, and over a quarter report receiving mental health treatment.

  • Nine in 10 teens say their mental health has been good in the last month or so, but three in five say they believe the world is more stressful now than it was when their parents or guardians were teens.
  • Teen boys are slightly more likely than teen girls to describe their mental health as very good, and younger teens (those entering 6th-10th grade) are more likely to say this than rising juniors and seniors.
  • However, about a quarter (26%) of teens have been diagnosed with a mental health condition, and about one in six report experiencing certain negative emotions such as anxiety, stress, or frustration all the time or often. This is particularly true for the 28% of teens who say they have sought mental health treatment.

2. A majority of teens say they feel comfortable talking about their mental health with those closest to them. Yet, this comfort does not necessarily translate into action.

  • Sixty-five percent of teens say they feel comfortable talking about their mental health with those closest to them, and 63% say they are comfortable talking with their parents or guardians, specifically, about their mental health. Yet fewer than half (48%) say they talk about mental health with their parents regularly.
  • Fewer teens (46%) say they are comfortable talking to their friends about their mental health, and only 22% report doing so regularly.
  • Teens who report having received mental health treatment are more likely to say they talk regularly with their parents/guardians (57%) or friends (32%) about their mental health than those who have not received mental health treatment (45% and 18%, respectively).

3. Overall, a majority of teens say they want to receive more information on mental health from their school. While most are not proactively seeking out information on the topic from teachers, those who do see them as a trusted resource.

  • Seven in 10 teens say their school should teach about what mental health is, should share information about mental health treatment, and should allow students to take days off to support their mental health. Teens most strongly agree (35%) that schools should implement mental health days.
  • Over half (56%) of teens agree their school thinks mental health matters, but fewer (40%) acknowledge their school has a specific program or resources to help improve the mental health of its students.
  • Only 7% of teens say they seek information about mental health from teachers or other adults in school all the time or often. Around one fifth (19%) say they do so sometimes.
  • Of those who do seek information about mental health from teachers at least rarely, a supermajority (81%) say they trust them as a source of information.

About the Study

This poll was conducted July 15-August 1, 2022, by Ipsos on behalf of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) using the KnowledgePanel®. This poll is based on a representative sample of 1,015 U.S. Teens (ages 12 - 17), who were recruited through their parents.

The study was conducted in English and Spanish. The data were weighted to adjust for gender by age, race/ethnicity, census region, metropolitan status, household income, and language dominance. The demographic benchmarks came from the 2021 March Supplement of the Current Population Survey (CPS) while language dominance benchmarks were obtained from the 2019 American Community Survey (ACS). The weighting categories were as follows:

  • Gender (Male, Female, A different gender identity) by Age (12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17)
  • Race/Hispanic Ethnicity (White Non-Hispanic, Black Non-Hispanic, Other Non-Hispanic, Hispanic, 2+ races Non-Hispanic)
  • Census Region (Northeast, Midwest, South, West)
  • Metropolitan Status (Metro, Non-Metro)
  • Household Income (Less than $25,000, $25,000-$49,999, $50,000-$74,999, $75,000-$99,999, $100,000-$149,000, $150,000 and above)
  • Language Dominance (Non-Hispanic, English Dominant Hispanic, Bilingual Hispanic, Spanish Dominant Hispanic)

The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points at the 95% confidence level, for results based on the entire sample of teenagers. The margin of error takes into account the design effect, which was 1.31. In our reporting of the findings, percentage points are rounded off to the nearest whole number. As a result, percentages in a given table column may total slightly higher or lower than 100%. In questions that permit multiple responses, columns may total substantially more than 100%, depending on the number of different responses offered by each respondent.

About Ipsos

Ipsos is the world’s third largest Insights and Analytics company, present in 90 markets and employing more than 18,000 people.

Our passionately curious research professionals, analysts and scientists have built unique multi-specialist capabilities that provide true understanding and powerful insights into the actions, opinions and motivations of citizens, consumers, patients, customers or employees. We serve more than 5000 clients across the world with 75 business solutions.

Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos is listed on the Euronext Paris since July 1st, 1999. The company is part of the SBF 120 and the Mid-60 index and is eligible for the Deferred Settlement Service (SRD).

ISIN code FR0000073298, Reuters ISOS.PA, Bloomberg IPS:FP www.ipsos.com

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The author(s)
  • Mallory Newall Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Annaleise Azevedo Lohr Director, US, Public Affairs
  • Charlie Rollason Research Manager, US, Public Affairs

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