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Mental Illness in California: Frequently Asked Questions

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Teens in California are struggling. As a result, many families in California are seeking teen mental health treatment programs for depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). But which California mental health services provide the highest-quality care? Here we provide mental health facts plus answers to frequently asked questions about California teen mental illness and treatment.

What Is the Rate of Teen Mental Illness in California?

Rates of child and adolescent mental illness in California have been increasing over the last several years. Both children and teens in the state are suffering from serious psychological distress and have untreated mental health conditions.

In fact, some research shows that teen mental health rates in California are significantly worse than in other states. The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Kids Count Data Book found that child and adolescent anxiety and depression in California rose 70 percent between 2016 and 2020. That’s twice the national rate. Among all 50 states and Washington DC, only South Dakota experienced a bigger increase.

How Many Teens Struggle with Depression in California?

Mental Health America (MHA) reports that 15 percent of California teens have had at least one major depressive episode in the last year. Moreover, 9 percent of California teens had a severe depressive episode.

Furthermore, MHA’s 2023 teen mental health statistics show that 70 percent of adolescents with depression did not receive any teen treatment services in California. The shortage of California mental health services and mental health providers in the state prevents many teens from accessing much-needed mental healthcare.

How Do I Access Behavioral Health Services in California?

Newport Academy provides mental health assessments for California families at no charge, in person at one of our locations or virtually. Our mental health professionals can help your family find high-quality mental health services in Northern and Southern California. An adolescent’s specific mental health conditions and the severity of their mental illness will determine the right treatment center for their needs. Start the assessment process here.

Our Newport Academy programs in California address the underlying causes of serious mental problems like anxiety, depression, and trauma. Our mental healthcare programs provide individualized treatment plans that include individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy, and parent support groups. Our approach also includes experiential therapies like art, music, yoga, and Adventure Therapy. However, if Newport isn’t the right fit for an adolescent, we will help you find another treatment option.


All calls are always confidential.

What Are the Best Insurances for Mental Healthcare in California?

The best California mental healthcare plans include Aetna, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield of California, HealthNet, and Kaiser Permanente. Depending on your policy, these health insurance companies provide mental health insurance coverage for teen treatment as well as coverage for physical health. Newport Academy’s teen mental health programs in California work with insurers and families to cover as much of the treatment cost as possible through insurance.

Moreover, Newport Academy’s Utilization Review team is highly experienced in working both in and out of network with California behavioral health insurance policies. We are experts in negotiating what are known as Single Case Agreements. A Single Case Agreement is when a provider, such as Newport Academy, negotiates a special contract so that out-of-network providers can work with your California insurance company on an in-network basis. 

Insurance verification is an essential step in accessing mental health services in California. Depending on your policy, insurance typically provides coverage for teen mental health services in California and nationwide. Newport Academy works with most major insurance companies to optimize access to care for teens and families dealing with mental illnesses or co-occurring issues like substance use disorder.

Should My Teen Go to an Outpatient or Residential Program in California?

Outpatient programming can be a good fit for teens who need clinical support and structure but are able to remain at home. Newport Academy has outpatient locations in both Northern and Southern California. However, for teens with more serious mental illness, a residential treatment center provides intensive, on-site care that encompasses clinical therapy, medication management, experiential activities, and academic programming.

A residential treatment center in Northern California or Southern California might be the right fit for your teen, even if it’s not in your hometown. In fact, there are several important benefits of traveling outside your local area to receive treatment. For example, some families may find that available San Jose mental health services aren’t the right fit for their teen’s mental health needs. Or they may find that teen treatment programs in San Francisco don’t offer the same services as programs elsewhere in the state.

How Do I Find the Highest-Quality California Teen Mental Health Treatment Centers?

Families seeking mental health treatment can search websites such as and to find teen mental health services in Northern California or Southern CA. However, it’s important to know how to identify the programs that provide safe, effective care.

Here are the most important indicators of high-quality care that families should look for when researching treatment for teen mental illness in California:

  • Accreditation by a respected healthcare accrediting body
  • Affiliations with other healthcare and mental health organizations
  • Insurance partnerships in California
  • Published outcomes research providing evidence of the positive impact of treatment
  • An integrated approach that encompasses both clinical expertise and psychiatric care, including individual therapy, family therapy, group therapy, and medication management

What Is the Suicide Rate in California?

Statistics show that 7 per 100,000 adolescents in California die by suicide. And many more adolescents are at risk for suicidal behavior. According to recent research by the California Health Care Foundation, 11 percent of California’s female high school students have made a suicide attempt and 7 percent of boys have made an attempt. Overall, suicide rates in Northern California are higher than in Southern California, particularly in the region of the state north of Sacramento.

Can Kids Take Mental Health Days in California?

Yes, California is one of a dozen US states that allow public school students to take a mental health day from school. In 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a Senate bill into law to that effect. The law allows students to miss school for mental or behavioral health concerns. The absences are treated as a missed school day.

What Is the First Step I Should Take to Access Teen Treatment in California?

Contact Newport Academy to access a mental health assessment at no charge, at one of our teen treatment centers in California or virtually. Our experts can assess your teen’s mental health symptoms and recommend the best behavioral health services in California or nationwide for your child and family members.

If Newport’s California mental healthcare services aren’t appropriate for your teen or family for any reason, we’ll help you find an option that will work. Our goal is to support young people and families from throughout California to access the highest-quality treatment. Here’s how to start the healing journey.