We're becoming more aware of mental health issues during the pandemic.
Mental Health America found children ages 11 to 17 are experiencing the highest rates of severe depression of any age group. Statistics indicate 91% are showing moderate to severe forms of depression and 51% reported having thoughts of suicide most days of the past two weeks. The group collects the data from people coming to its website to screen themselves.
“So they've obviously come because they're concerned about themselves and they're having difficult emotions or an experience that they don't understand so they will be guided to resources to access, maybe a community mental health clinic a Mental Health America affiliate somewhere in their area,” said Schroeder Stribling, the CEO and president of Mental Health America. “Or they were offered other tips to find support in peer programs or online supports that they can read or join from the web, the screening experience.”
Mental Health America also asks youth what they are looking for when they take these screenings. For most, it's just education. Schools can play a critical role.
“Taking a public health approach educating, just as we do on other health topics that we think are really important for youth, we know from evidence that this and research in the past that this reduces thoughts of suicide and reduces the number of suicide attempts among youth,” said Stribling.
Another critical element to breaking stigma and helping youth with their mental health is including them in the conversation.
“They know what experiences they're having they're the best experts to talk about the solutions that they need that are culturally relevant for them that involve them in designing the solutions for what they need," Stribling said. "It’s very empowering for this student community and peer supports are enormously effective in supporting youth in crisis."
Mental Health America’s website for the group's online mental health assessment can be accessed by clicking here. It is available for anyone, of any age, experiencing issues ranging from PTSD to eating disorders.