Youth Emotional Wellness

Growing up is hard. curaJOY is here to help.

When curaJOY first started and we began designing our program to improve emotional wellness for the entire family, we expected to hear mostly from parents who are concerned about their kids’ emotional wellness and social-emotional development. To our surprise, it was YOUTHS — tweens and teens around the world — who sought us out, asking for help to become happier, manage stress, and make more friends.

Kids are struggling! Kids and teens age 10-19 experience depression more than any other age group. The Center of Disease Control reports that 37% of high schoolers have poor mental health. Mental health conditions make up 16% of the global burden of disease and injury in young people. But they can be treated and prevented.

When teens talk, we listen.

In Fall 2022, curaJOY interviewed more than 1500 families in the US and East Asia. We found that people were having problems making friends and handling issues with their peers like bullying and negative peer pressure. These issues are impacting our youth’s emotional wellness, which can lead to depression, anxiety, body image issues, and eating disorders.

Globalization and modern technology have increased human productivity and pioneered ways to fight diseases, but diminished the real-life opportunities that help children (and adults) foster social-emotional and interpersonal skills.

My dad doesn’t like therapy. He thinks it’s a symbol of weakness, and he isn’t subtle about it. Even though my mom got me help, I feel like I have to be cured within x sessions.”

– Elliot
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Suicide is the 4th leading cause of death in teenagers.

Over half of the people curaJOY surveyed believe they would benefit from counseling, coaching or other types of behavioral health support, but cited their parents’ lack of awareness or negative attitudes towards behavioral healthcare as main barriers to getting help.

The world is facing an unprecedented shortage of behavioral health professionals (therapists, psychologists). This shortage contributes to the low number of people receiving behavioral healthcare, but there’s another issue—not seeking help. Our youth suffer in silence. Why?

Less than 20% of children in need receive professional help.

Why aren’t youths getting help?

curaJOY's Youth Ambassadors of high school and college students held group sessions, talked to their friends, and gave us these insights.

Lack of awareness

  • They don’t think their problems are severe or important enough to “deserve” help
  • “It’s hard to know when you need help”
  • They think the problem will go away on its own
  • They think they’re the only ones having the problem and no one can help them

Fear and Shame

  • Afraid adults won’t take them seriously
  • They don’t want to be outed
  • They’ve had bad experiences with providers in the past
  • It’s embarrassing
  • They’re afraid their friends will bully them
  • Don’t want to appear like there’s something wrong with them by getting help
  • No one else is asking for help
  • They think it will damage their reputation
  • They don’t want to create extra work for their parents

“My mom raises me by herself and has to work extra shifts to provide for me and my brother. She raised me the best she could, so I shouldn’t have a problem. But I do, and what if she feels sad because she thinks its her fault? Can she afford to get me a therapist?”

– Anonymous
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Misconception and Mistrust of Behavioral Health Providers

  • A therapist is hired or shared with other family members
  • They’ve had bad experiences with providers in the past
  • They don’t think therapy will help them
  • They don’t trust their therapists will keep their secrets.
  • They think it’ll be painful and choose to escape and disassociate instead of working through their problems.

Lack of Resources and Support

  • Their parents are too busy to drive them
  • Their parents don’t want them to get therapy.
  • Their religion doesn’t believe in therapy.
  • Their parents don’t approve of therapy or mental health resources.
  • Therapy will take too much time.
  • They think the problem will go away on its own. Time will heal all wounds.

“Everyone else must be suffering and no one else is going to a therapist, so why should I?”

– Reese

My therapist told my dad what I was saying about him. Therapists only side with the people who pay.

– Ward

I can’t tell anything to my therapist because she sees my mom too. And my mom IS the problem!”

– Anonymous
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