Worrying Trends Revealed in CDC Report on Teen Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — A first-of-its-kind survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of adolescent mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed startling trends.

The survey was conducted from January to June 2021 among American high school students.

The final report released this week found that more than a third of secondary school students said their mental health had suffered during the pandemic, with 44% saying they felt constantly sad or hopeless over the past year.

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More than a quarter of students surveyed also revealed that a parent had lost their job.

“Children’s mental health is so affected by what’s happening in the family, what’s happening in the community and of course with online schools and school disruptions,” explained Dr. Helen Egger who founded Little Otter, a digital mental health service for children.

Among the hardest hit are LGBTQ children and Asian Americans.

Sixty-four percent of Asian American students said they had experienced racism during COVID and African American students were not far behind at 55%.

CDC researchers also found that LGBTQ students reported higher levels of poor mental health, emotional abuse, and suicide attempts than their counterparts.

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Locally, the San Francisco Unified School District says this is where its LGBTQ student services have played a huge role.

“We have worked closely with our wellness coordinators to text our students and email our students to let them know what different programs we have been running to allow them to be able to extend the reach out and get the help they need in case they feel lonely, in case they feel hopeless,” said Kena Hazelwood, SFUSD’s LGBTQ Student Services Coordinator.

So, who did the best during this period? According to the CDC report, students who felt connected to adults and peers in their schools.

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The survey found that these students were “significantly less likely than those who did not to report lingering feelings of sadness or hopelessness”.

They were also less likely to consider suicide or to have attempted suicide.

If you or someone you love is in crisis and having suicidal thoughts or mental health issues, here are some organizations that offer help and hope.

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