Policy ForumMENTAL HEALTH

Adolescent mental health—Opportunity and obligation

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Science  31 Oct 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6209, pp. 547-549
DOI: 10.1126/science.1260497

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Summary

The adolescent brain is more “plastic” than it will ever be again, capable of remarkable adaptability in light of the many social, physical, sexual, and intellectual challenges that this developmental phase brings. This is also a peak time for clinical onset of most mental illnesses (see the chart) (1). One in five adolescents have a mental illness that will persist into adulthood (2). Mental illnesses that emerge before adulthood impose a 10-fold higher cost than those that emerge later in life (3). Mental health costs are the highest single source of global economic burden in the world (4).