March 22, 2022
Rates of depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation and behavioral crises have risen during the pandemic. Are schools equipped for the needs they now face?
Even before the pandemic, the mental health of young people was a growing concern. By 2018, for instance, suicide had become the second leading cause of death among people age 10 to 24. And in 2019, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in three high school students reported persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness.
The pandemic only made things worse. According to a recent U.S. Surgeon General report, depression and anxiety symptoms have doubled among youth across the world. Emergency room visits in the U.S. for suspected suicide attempts among adolescent girls are up more than 50%. And there is a documented spike in suicides among children of color.
That mental health strain appears to be manifesting at school in a number of ways. Reports of behavioral issues and violence are rising, student achievement and attendance are flagging and the demand for professional help is overwhelming the systems set up to care for young people. Meanwhile, the adults tasked with providing support to students at school — the guidance counselors and teachers — are struggling, too.
For this episode of This Changes Everything, we talk with educators and professionals about what the pandemic is doing to the mental health of our students and teachers, what is being done to address the need and whether it’s enough.
Mental health resources
If you or someone you know needs support for mental health, here’s where to find help.
Crisis Connections: Covers King County and surrounding areas with five programs focused on serving the emotional and physical needs of people across Washington state. Call 866-427-4747.
Washington 211: Free referral and informational help line that connects people to health and human services, available 24/7. Call 211.
Washington Recovery Helpline: 24-hour crisis intervention and referral assistance for substance abuse, mental health and gambling. Call 866-789-1511.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: National network of local crisis centers that provide free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call 800-273-8255.
National Alliance on Mental Illness: The nation’s largest grassroots mental-health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.
Host/Producer: Sara Bernard
Reporters: Venice Buhain, Claudia Rowe
Editorial assistant: Brooklyn Jamerson-Flowers
Consulting editor: Donna Blankinship
Executive producer/story editor: Mark Baumgarten
Audio support: Jonah Cohen