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Top Pressures Facing U.S. Teens That Every Counselor Should Know

Learn how earning a master’s degree in counseling online can prepare you to support the mental health of U.S. teens.

Being a teen is tough. And in today’s technological, social-media-obsessed world, it can be downright brutal. Youth in the U.S. are experiencing challenges never seen in previous generations, and these challenges are taking a toll on teens’ mental health. In fact, one in five young people suffers from mental illness.1

Anxiety and depression are on the rise among U.S. teens, and teens recognize it’s a major problem. In fact, seven in 10 teens say anxiety and depression are the biggest problems facing their own peer groups.2

Top Pressures Facing U.S. Teens That Every Counselor Should Know

Licensed mental health counselors can diagnose and treat teens for depression and anxiety, and they can help youth develop the skills to cope with life’s pressures. If you’re thinking about pursuing a career as a counselor, or you’re already working in the field, it’s important to be aware of the issues that U.S. teens are dealing with daily.

According to a recent Pew Research Center survey of young people ages 13 to 17, teens say the top three pressures they face are:2

1. Getting Good Grades

Academics have long been a source of stress for teens. But with admission requirements becoming increasingly competitive at many higher education institutions, teens are feeling even more anxiety about success in the classroom.

According to the survey, 61% of teens say they feel a lot of pressure to get good grades, especially if they plan to pursue a college education and are worried about getting into a good college to earn a bachelor’s degree. School guidance counselors can help alleviate some of this stress and change lives by ensuring teens have the social, emotional, and academic support needed to achieve their postsecondary education goals.

2. Looking Good

Teens are naturally self-conscious about their appearance. But heavily edited images on Instagram and other popular media sources leave many teens chasing unrealistic perfection.

Nearly 30% of teen girls and boys say they feel a lot of pressure to look good. Teens are constantly comparing themselves to others. They stress about their bodies. They are anxious about their fashion choices. They worry about what others think of their looks.

Teens who have negative body image issues or low self-esteem sometimes go to extreme measures to change their appearance, like developing an eating disorder. A professional such as a licensed behavioral therapist has the counseling degree, specialized training, and licensing credentials to help teens who struggle with these types of pressures.

3. Fitting In

We all want to feel a sense of belonging. And for many teens, the need to fit in can be all-consuming. They want to be accepted and find their place with a group of their peers. For some teens, the pressure of fitting in leads to self-doubt, feelings of rejection, or unsafe behaviors such as smoking, drinking, and doing drugs.

When teens turn to drugs or alcohol, they put themselves at risk of developing an addiction. Substance abuse counselors—also known as drug and alcohol therapists, chemical dependency counselors, and addiction counselors—specialize in helping people overcome addiction and learn healthier strategies for dealing with anxiety.

How Can You Become a Counselor Prepared to Help U.S. Teens?

Licensed clinical mental health counselors can make a positive impact on teens’ lives. If you want to make a difference, consider earning a master’s degree in counseling.

The MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling online program at Walden University is a great choice. The convenient online learning format at Walden makes it possible to earn a mental health degree around your schedule, with online courses that you can complete from the comfort of your own home.

There are many career paths you can take with a mental health degree; what you do as a clinical mental health counselor is up to you and your career goals. In the clinical mental health master’s program at Walden, you can complete the General Program or choose a specialization like Addiction Counseling; Trauma and Crisis Counseling; or Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling.

Whether you want to become a drug and alcohol counselor, family counselor, or other type of licensed therapist, an online degree program in counseling can provide you with the education and credentials to empower teens to manage social pressures and change their lives for the better.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering an MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree program online. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.


Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,

Walden University’s MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), a specialized accrediting body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). CACREP accreditation is a requirement for licensure in many states.

Note on licensure: The MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program is designed to prepare graduates to qualify to sit for licensing exams and to meet the academic licensure requirements of many state counseling boards. Because no graduate program can guarantee licensure upon graduation, we encourage students to consult the appropriate agency to determine specific requirements. For more information about licensure, students should visit the National Board for Certified Counselors at and/or the American Association of State Counseling Boards at, and contact the appropriate licensing body. Learn more about professional licensure.