Student Mental Health
written by: Kendall Cline, FFT Program Manager
During the Covid-19 pandemic, results on high school student mental health in the United States have shown an alarming increase in threats. The 2021 CDC data shows about 37% of students reported experiencing poor mental health during the pandemic and about 44% reported feeling sad or hopeless. Further data shows some of the challenges encountered during the Covid-19 pandemic with approximately 55% of students experiencing emotional abuse by a parent or other adult in the home, such as swearing at, insulting, or putting the student down. About 11% of students experienced physical abuse by a parent or other adult in the home, which included hitting, beating, kicking or physically hurting the student.
Before the pandemic, mental health among school students was already getting worse. According to the CDC data, students who felt sadness or hopelessness had increased to 40% between 2009-2019. About 66% of lesbian, gay and bisexual students with approximately 47% of the female students reported persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness. The results also found that lesbian, gay and bisexual students are four times more likely to have attempted suicide than their heterosexual peers.
The most important protective factor for these youth to help reduce the likelihood of health risks, including mental health is connectedness. This refers to the sense of being cared for, supported, and belonging, and can be centered on feeling connected to school, family, such as parents and caregivers, or other important people in a young student’s life. Students who feel connected at school and home are less likely to experience negative health outcomes related to sexual risk, substance use, violence and mental health. Students who felt connectedness at school and home were found to be 66% less likely to experience health risk behaviors and mental health in adulthood.
Schools are a crucial partner in supporting health and wellbeing of students. Programs that promote social emotional learning and emphasize self-awareness, self-management, responsible decision-making as well as focus on safe ways students can help others. Trained mental health professionals, including counselors and support staff in the schools can conduct mental health screenings, identify students in crisis and who need intervention.
“New CDC data illuminate youth mental health threats during the Covid-19 pandemic” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 31 March 2022, https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2022/p0331-youth-mental-health-covid-19.html. Accessed 4 Aug. 2022.
“Mental Health Among Adolescents” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/newsroom/docs/factsheets/dash-mental-health.pdf. Accessed 4 Aug. 2022.