Trends in the Human Narrative

The Data

Mental Health

In the United States, one in four people are diagnosed with mental illness over the course of a year in the U.S. 22% of youth ages 13-18 experience serious mental disorders in a given year. Each year, 157,000 children and young adults, ages 10-24, are treated at emergency departments for self-inflicted injuries. One in 12 high school students have attempted suicide. 

In California

Locally, about 26% of 7th graders and 11th graders reported feeling chronically sad or hopeless to the extent that it impacted their daily activities. 17% of 11th grade students seriously considered suicide. 45% of 11th graders report being drug or alcohol users. 43% of middle schooler and 29% of 11th graders have experienced any harassment or bullying.  

Around the World

Globally, 20% of the children have mental disorders or problems.  Most low- and middle-income countries have only one child psychiatrist for every 1 to 4 million people. About 800,000 people  commit suicide/year.

The Impact

Young people ages 16-24 with mental illness are four times less likely to be involved in gainful activities, like employment, college or trade school. More than 60% of young adults with a mental illness were unable to complete high school. Those with a psychiatric disability are three times more likely to be involved in criminal justice activities.   

Teen Employment

77% of high-school seniors worked for pay during the school year; by the mid-2010s, only 55 percent did. The number of eighth-graders who work for pay has been cut in half.  


62.8 million people volunteered 7.8 billion hours for an estimated value of $184 billion. Unfortunately the percentage of Americans dropped from about 29% to 25% from 2002 to 2015.


40 million Americans age 12 & over meet the clinical criteria for addiction, involving nicotine, alcohol or other drugs. 90% of those with an addiction began drinking, smoking or using illicit drugs before the age of 18. 150 people die every day from drug overdoses. This rate has tripled in the past 20 years. 

Increased Availability

There was a near tripling of opioid prescriptions dispensed by U.S. pharmacies. In parallel with this increase, there was also a near tripling of opioid-related deaths over the same time period from 1991 to 2011.  

Impact on Children

 400,000 infants each year (about 10% of all births), have substance exposure before they were born. 8.3 million children, under the age of 18, lived with at least one substance dependent or substance-abusing parent. 80% of child abuse cases involve alcohol or drug use. 

Media Trends

71% of teens say they spend 3+ hrs/day watching videos online, 52% of teens who say they spend 3+ hrs/day using messaging apps and 51% of teens who say they spend 3+ hrs/day social networking. 

The Impact

Dr. Jean M.Twenge says 8th graders who are heavy users of social media increase their risk of depression by 27%, while those who play sports, go to religious services, or even do homework more than the average teen cut their risk significantly. the number of teens who get together with their friends nearly every day dropped by more than 40% from 2000 to 2015. In the late 1970s, Teens who spend 3+ hours/day on electronic devices are 35% more likely to have a risk factor for suicide.

Family Dynamics

Four-in-ten births  occur to women who are single or living with a non-marital partner. Today, 62% of children live with two married parents, 15% are living with parents in a remarriage, 7% are living with parents who are cohabiting. Conversely, 26% are living with one parent and 5% live with no parent.