George Lucas Educational Foundation

A New Theory on the Teen Mental Health Crisis

While rising rates of teen mental health issues can’t be pinned to a single root cause, a 2023 study surfaced a compelling connection to the decline in childhood independence.

February 9, 2024

There is growing concern around the widespread mental health issues that teenagers face, and while finding causes can be elusive, a recent study reveals a new angle—rooted in childhood development—that is gaining traction.

In 2023, researchers compiled and assessed data trends that showed a drop in opportunities for children to engage in play, chores, and roles that are not directly overseen and controlled by adults. Unsupervised play and purposeful work contribute to the development of important feelings of competence, autonomy, and relatedness in childhood and adolescence, which lead to healthy young adults. Without those opportunities, children may be missing out on a critical part of their growth. The message seems clear—adults should strive to ensure that children have ample chances to grow in their confidence through independent play and exploration.

To read the research cited in the video, check out the links below:

To learn more about 2023’s most compelling research findings for educators, visit The 10 Most Significant Education Studies of 2023.

Share This Story

  • email icon

Filed Under

  • Student Wellness
  • Mental Health
  • Research
0 / 0

Follow Edutopia

  • facebook icon
  • twitter icon
  • instagram icon
  • youtube icon
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms of Use
George Lucas Educational Foundation
Edutopia is an initiative of the George Lucas Educational Foundation.
Edutopia®, the EDU Logo™ and Lucas Education Research Logo® are trademarks or registered trademarks of the George Lucas Educational Foundation in the U.S. and other countries.