Reasons Why Young Adults with Mental Illness Less Likely to Receive Treatment

mental health teen girl

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health, as reported to SAMHSA, reported only a third of young adults suffering from mental illness in a given year received treatment.  Young adults aged 18 to 25 are less likely to receive mental health services other than any age group. Approximately 44% of adults in need aged 26 to 49 years of age received some type of mental health services. Learn more about why young adults with mental illness may be less likely to receive treatment.


In terms of young adults receiving help, the breakdown of services accessed includes only a quarter receiving prescription medication while less than 25% received outpatient services. Inpatient mental health services proved to be the least likely treatment option with only under 4% receiving inpatient services for mental illness. Given the nature of mental illness, many more young people should have access to intensive treatment. In light of this statistic, more than 3.7% of the young people suffering from mental illness over a year might require intensive inpatient services but are struggling to receive them.

Benefits of Treatment

SAMHSA believes young adults could benefit from developmentally appropriate services to facilitate the transition to adulthood. Several programs provide vital information on the signs and symptoms of mental health issues and offer referral and treatment services to young people in need. Beyond mental health professionals, it is possible mentors, life coaches and teachers can fill the gap. Trained professionals have frequent interactions with young adults that could provide help to those in need.

Seeking Help

Young people are in high need of proper services tailored to meet their unique needs. When thinking about the needs of young people, it is necessary to understand that treatment options are not always available to those in need due to financial circumstances but when mental health is concerned, it is difficult to understand how young people in need are not able to access necessary lifesaving services. Supporting young people in achieving the goal of getting help for mental illness can be beneficial for the long term not only for the young adult but families, communities and everyone who is invested in the youth of America.


Sustain Recovery provides support to adolescents in recovery. Addiction can be devastating but teens should have access to treatment. Learn more about the ways Sustain Recovery can support adolescents with addiction.