Early onset of mental health problems have been associated with poor outcomes such as failure to complete high school, increased risk for psychiatric and substance problems, and teen pregnancy.
About half of all adults with mental disorders surveyed by Dr Mary E. Evans, RN, FAAN, recalled that their disorders began by their mid-teens and three-quarters by their mid-20s.
The researchers also identified specific risk and protective factors for many disorders. For example, certain thinking and behavioral patterns are risks for the development of depression.
On the other hand, non-specific factors that increase risk for developing disorders include poverty, marital conflict, poor peer relations, and community violence.
Certain neurobiological factors also contribute to the development of disorders in youth, but this is also influenced by environmental factors.
A key risk factor for externalizing disorders is aggressive social behavior that begins in early childhood.
A number of interventions have been developed to provide training in parenting skills to prevent the development of aggressive and antisocial behavior.
In addition, some preventive interventions have targeted specific disorders such as depression and schizophrenia.
Cognitive behavioral treatment for high-risk adolescents has been found to reduce the rate of major depressive symptoms. Also, a number of community-based programs have been shown to be effective in promoting healthy behaviors.
"For all nurses, this report will increase our understanding of risk and protective factors related to the healthy development of children and youth," said Evans.