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Five Things Every Social Worker Should Know About Teenage Depression

An MSW degree can lead to life-changing work in the field of teenage mental health.

Despite increased awareness about depression, which affects millions of teenagers, many adolescents with the mood disorder go undiagnosed and untreated.1 According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), approximately 60% of adolescents experiencing depression went without treatment in 2017.

With an MSW, you could be one of the needed, trusted professionals working to help recognize the signs of depression in teens and assist in their treatment. If your social work career—or career aspiration—points to the field of adolescent mental health, the federally funded NIMH is a respected source of information into the latest research and trends. Here, from the NIMH’s resources on depression, are five key statistics about teen depression that every social worker should know:1

Five Things Every Social Worker Should Know About Teenage Depression

  1. An estimated 3.2 million adolescents aged 12 to 17 in the United States had at least one major depressive episode in 2017. This number represented 13.3% of the U.S. population aged 12 to 17.
  2. The prevalence of major depressive episode was higher among adolescent females (20%) compared to males (6.8%).
  3. The prevalence of major depressive episode was highest among adolescents reporting two or more races (16.9%).
  4. In 2017, an estimated 2.3 million adolescents aged 12 to 17 in the United States had at least one major depressive episode with severe impairment. This number represented 9.4% of the U.S. population aged 12 to 17.
  5. An estimated 19.6% received care by a health professional alone, and another 17.9% received combined care by a health professional and medication treatment. Treatment with medication alone was least common (2.4%).

What Do Social Workers Do?

Identifying and counseling teens who experience depression is a critical component of many social worker jobs and one of the ways social workers make a difference. “Social workers help relieve people’s suffering, fight for social justice, and improve lives and communities,” the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) writes in “Why Choose the Social Worker Profession.” … “If you’re looking for a career with meaning, action, diversity, satisfaction, and a variety of options, consider social work."2

MSW degree-holders can follow their interests to jobs such as clinical social worker, mental health social worker, healthcare social worker, school social worker, or director of a private or public agency, to name just a few career options. And new types of social worker positions continue to emerge. The St. Paul, Minnesota, library system created a position for a library social worker to serve as a resource for children and families in crisis.

The outlook for social work careers is bright, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Job growth between 2018–2028 is projected to be 11%, much faster than average, with approximately 81,200 jobs added by 2028.3

How to Become a Social Worker

Earning a master’s in social work online allows you to continue working and gaining valuable experience while preparing for this significant step in your career. In addition to selecting an accredited university, you should choose an MSW program that is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). CSWE’s Commission on Accreditation develops accreditation standards that define competent preparation for professional social workers and they ensure that social work programs meet these standards.

Walden University’s online social work degree program at the master’s level has CSWE accreditation and offers four concentrations that provide training for some of today’s most in-demand jobs. Students may choose from Advanced Clinical Practice, Military Social Work, Social Work in Healthcare, and Social Work With Children and Families. Students also may select from three degree completion options.

Upon completion of the Walden MSW degree program, graduates will be prepared to apply their knowledge and skills in the areas of engagement, assessment, intervention, and evaluation with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. If the thought of working in this profession—whether with teens or in another essential social work practice—appeals to you, let Walden’s innovative curriculum and convenient and flexible learning platform be your partner along the path to a rewarding career.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree program. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient online format that fits your busy life.


Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,