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The Impact of Foster Care on Teen Mental Health

By October 4, 2023Uncategorized

The Social Policy Report (SPR) explains that “foster care provides round-the-clock substitute care for nearly 700,000 U.S. children who are temporarily or permanently separated from their family of origin each year.” In many cases, adolescents are removed from their family of origin and placed in foster care due to maltreatment, abuse, or neglect. Data provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services indicates that the most common reasons for youth spending time in foster care include neglect (62%), parent substance abuse (36%), parent inability to cope with parenting (14%), or physical abuse (13%). An estimated 90% of children in foster care have experienced physical, emotional, and/ or psychological trauma. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “Mental and behavioral health is the largest unmet health need for children and teens in foster care.” Studies suggest that among the 40% of youth in foster care, up to nearly 80% exhibit a serious behavioral or mental health problem requiring intervention. Foster care children experience high rates of mental health disorders, some of which include the following, provided by Verywell Mind:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Reactive attachment disorder
  • Anxiety disorder
  • Depression
  • Borderline personality disorder (BPD)
  • Social phobia
  • Oppositional defiant disorder
  • Conduct disorder
  • Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Separation anxiety disorder
  • Eating disorders

Data indicates that “among foster care youth who receive five different placements, nearly 90% get involved with the criminal justice system.” Foster care can have a significant impact on the mental health of teenagers, and this impact can vary widely depending on the specific circumstances of their placement and their individual resilience. It is highly common for teenagers in foster care to struggle with processing, understanding, and/ or recovering from their circumstances which can manifest as adverse physical, mental, and/ or emotional symptoms. Without ample support and proper treatment these symptoms may extend into adulthood. Positive and supportive relationships with foster parents can have a protective effect on teen mental health. Foster parents who provide stability, love, and understanding can make a significant difference.

For Information and Support 

Every family in need of mental health treatment must select a program that will best suit the needs of their family. When one member of a family struggles, it impacts everyone in the family unit. To maximize the benefits of treatment we work closely with the entire family to ensure that everyone is receiving the support they need through these difficult times.

Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person’s life, long term. Pursuing support at the beginning of one’s journey can put the individual in the best position to learn how to manage themselves in a healthy way so they can go on to live happy and fulfilling lives.


We are available to answer any questions you may have regarding mental health treatment and our residential program, anytime. Contact us today using the form to the right.

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