This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published results from a survey of American teenagers that was conducted between January and June of 2021, and the findings aren’t great. According to the C.D.C.:.
More than one in three high school students (37.1 percent) experienced poor mental health during the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition, 44.2 percent of students experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness, almost 20 percent seriously considered suicide, and 9.0 percent attempted suicide during the 12 months before the survey.
When the survey began, the C.D.C. notes, “approximately 50 percent of all students in the United States were receiving online-only instruction,” and “research has shown that online-only instruction has had a negative effect on the mental health of adolescents.” The impact was not felt equally among all teens, though: “Female students and those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, other or questioning (LGBQ) are experiencing disproportionate levels of poor mental health and suicide-related behaviors” and “students who reported racism were also more likely to experience poor mental health and less likely to feel connected to people at school,” the results indicate.
In The Washington Post, Moriah Balingit writes that adolescent mental health was already on a downward slide:
Concerns about adolescent mental health were rising before the pandemic: Teens had been reporting poor mental health at higher rates. Between 2009 and 2019, the percentage of teens who reported having “persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness” rose from 26 percent to 37 percent. In 2021, the figure rose to 44 percent.
Kim Tingley has recently written for The New York Times Magazine about this phenomenon. And as the C.D.C.’s website outlines, anxiety and depression among children has increased over time, as the number of kids ages 6-17 “ever having been diagnosed with either anxiety or depression” has increased, “from 5.4 percent in 2003 to 8 percent in 2007 and to 8.4 percent in 2011-2012.”