April 1, 2022 — Many American teens have reported mental health issues during the COVID-19 pandemic, a CDC survey finds.
Among the main results of the survey of secondary school students:
- 37% of teen respondents said they had poor mental health during the pandemic.
- 44% said they felt “persistently” sad or hopeless.
- 55% said an adult in their home was emotionally abusive.
- 11% said an adult at home was physically abusive.
- 20% said they were considering suicide.
- Lesbian, gay and bisexual adolescents reported higher levels of poor mental health.
“These data echo a cry for help,” CDC Acting Senior Deputy Director Debra Houry, MD, said in a press release. “The COVID-19 pandemic has created traumatic stressors that have the potential to further erode students’ mental well-being. Our research shows that surrounding young people with the right support can reverse these trends and help our young people now and in the future.
The CDC interviewed 7,705 teens across the country in the first 6 months of 2021, in their first full school year amid the pandemic, for the Teen Behaviors and Experiences Survey.
Teens who had a sense of connection with adults at home or other young people at school reported lower levels of poor mental health, the CDC said. As health and public officials debate whether schools should remain open during the pandemic, the CDC said schools “are essential partners in supporting student health and well-being.” .
“School connectivity is critical to dealing with the adversities of young people at all times, especially during times of severe disruption,” said Kathleen A. Ethier, PhD, director of the CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health, in the press release. “Students need our support now more than ever, whether it’s ensuring their schools are inclusive and safe or providing them with opportunities to engage in their communities and be nurtured by supportive adults. .
Previous surveys of adolescent mental health have shown an increase in problems even before the pandemic hit. The percentage of teenagers reporting having persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness rose from 26% in 2009 to 37% in 2019. The new survey had 44% reporting feeling this way in 2021.
1 in 5 high school students do not identify as straight, CDC says
About 22.5% of high school students asked about their sexual orientation in the Adolescent Behaviors and Experiences Survey did not identify as heterosexual.
The CDC said 77.5% of respondents identified as heterosexual; 13.2% as gay, lesbian or bisexual; and 9.3% as other or questioning.
Biden marks transgender visibility day with new policies
New training for educators to help transgender and non-binary students overcome challenges was among initiatives the Biden administration announced Thursday for Transgender Awareness Day.
Among other policy changes, U.S. citizens will be able to put “X” for their gender classification on passport applications, and the Transportation Security Administration will update body scanners to reduce pat-downs for air travelers.
“To everyone celebrating Transgender Visibility Day, I want you to know that your president sees you,” Biden said in a recorded message, according to the Washington Post. “Our entire administration sees you for who you are – made in the image of God deserving of dignity, respect and support.”