BACKGROUND: The understanding of youth mental health needs and development of service delivery models is a national public health challenge. OBJECTIVES: The rates and predictors of emotional and behavioral problems among 1087 youth were assessed in a pre-university college in Bangalore, India. Variations in rates of disturbance, identified by using different cut-off points, were also examined. MATERIALS AND METHODS: The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire was used as a self-report screening tool. RESULTS: Results indicated that 10.1% of adolescents had total difficulty levels in the abnormal range, with 9% at risk for emotional symptoms, 13% for conduct problems, 12.6% for hyperactivity/inattention and 9.4% for peer problems. Select gender differences were present. Cut-off scores derived from the sample yielded lower estimates of disturbance than the published cut-offs. Regression analysis identified predictors of total difficulty levels. CONCLUSIONS: Implications for assessment of youth mental health and planning targeted services in educational institutions are discussed.