In the U.S., there are at least 12 million adolescents suffering from a mental health issue. Disorders such as depression or anxiety could be present in children as young as 13. The first signs of other lifetime health disorders could show in individuals before the age of 24. Identifying the first signs of a serious mental illness can be tricky if you are not familiar with them.
According to Dr. Steven R. Lopez, Director of La CLAVE, which is a mental health awareness campaign for Latinos, the onset of serious mental illness occurs largely in late adolescence and early adulthood. People often attribute the symptoms of the illness as temporary consequence to a significant life change or stress, for example, starting middle school or high school.
"Some adolescents, especially those predisposed to mental illness, may start displaying symptoms that are not likely to simply go away on their own without treatment," said Dr. Lopez. "Because it is critical that people seek help in the early stages of the illness, we encourage people to use La CLAVE as a guide to identifying and remembering the symptoms associated with serious mental illness."
La CLAVE highlights the symptoms as false beliefs or delusions, disorganized speech, and hallucinations, which can include seeing things that others do not see and hearing sounds or voices that others do not hear.
If you feel that your adolescent is experiencing any of these symptoms, call the San Fernando Mental Health Center at (800) 448-7097 to schedule an evaluation with a mental health specialist. Help is available for your loved one. For more information visit www.UseLaCLAVE.com