The importance of the adolescent life period, from 10 to 19 years, is evident increasingly in all cultures of the world. The short, ritualized transition from childhood to adulthood, which has been characteristic of some cultures, is giving way to more prolonged periods as the pattern of Western industrialized society spreads to other parts of the world. The mental health problems of adolescents are attracting increasing attention since they have long-term social and economic implications. In Europe and the United States, epidemiological surveys indicate a high prevalence of psychiatric disorders in teenagers. At all times in the community there is a large group of adolescents who are a source of concern because of their misbehaviour and apparent unhappiness. Nevertheless, adolescents world-wide have received relatively less medical and psychiatric attention than other age groups and specialized services, professional training and research are poorly developed. This is the state of affairs in many European countries and there are grounds for concern about the present state of adolescent psychiatry in Britain, in terms of both its clinical services and its professional development and status.
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