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To read more of Ellen M. Burstein's article, please click here, To Help Support Their Mental Health, Students Want Schools To Make These Changes (msn.com).
Today’s high school seniors have lived through a deadly pandemic, increasing rates of climate disaster, and an armed insurrection at the U.S. Capitol — all before getting their driver’s licenses. Contentious national politics, global crises, social isolation, and the personal and academic pressures of high school have fueled what U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy has called the “crisis of our time:” a national mental health emergency among young people.
The American Academy of Pediatrics declared a national emergency in child and adolescent mental health in October 2021 due to “soaring rates of mental health challenges” amongst young patients, noting that COVID-19 exacerbated a decade-long trend of worsening mental health and suicidality in young people.
Nearly two years after their announcement, profound mental health challenges persist. A CDC report released in February found that 42% of high school students felt “so sad or hopeless almost every day for at least two weeks… that they stopped doing their usual activities.” For female and LGBTQ+-identifying students, it’s even worse: the report found that almost 60% of female students and 70% of LGBTQ students “experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness.” Meanwhile, a national shortage of mental health providers, including child psychiatrists, therapists, and psychologists, has kept many young people from receiving necessary care.