We aimed to identify promising novel medications for child and adolescent mental health problems. We systematically searched https://clinicaltrials.gov/ and https://www.clinicaltrialsregister.eu/ (from 01/01/2010-08/23/2022) for phase 2 or 3 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of medications without regulatory approval in the US, Europe or Asia, including also RCTs of dietary interventions/probiotics. Additionally, we searched phase 4 RCTs of agents targeting unlicensed indications for children/adolescents with mental health disorders. We retrieved 234 ongoing or completed RCTs, including 26 (11%) with positive findings on ≥ 1 primary outcome, 43 (18%) with negative/unavailable results on every primary outcome, and 165 (70%) without publicly available statistical results. The only two compounds with evidence of significant effects that were replicated in ≥ 1 additional RCT without any negative RCTs were dasotraline for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and carbetocin for hyperphagia in Prader-Willi syndrome. Among other strategies, targeting specific symptom dimensions in samples stratified based on clinical characteristics or established biomarkers may increase chances of success in future development programmes.