Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gaggle’s data has revealed K-12 students’ increasing struggles with suicide, self-harm, and other concerning issues. Following the declaration of a national state of emergency for children’s mental health in October and a public advisory on this crisis from the U.S. Surgeon General in December, the CDC recently released data highlighting the mental health threats high school students experienced during the pandemic.
Data released before the pandemic already showed that mental health was worsening amongst high school students. The new CDC data highlights how the pandemic has increased mental health challenges for today’s youth:
- Nearly 20% of students had seriously considered attempting suicide in the 12 months before the survey, and 9% had attempted suicide
- 37% experienced poor mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic, with 31% experiencing poor mental health in the 30 days prior to taking the survey
- 44% persistently felt sad or hopeless almost every day for two weeks or more during the past year
- 55% experienced emotional abuse by a parent/adult in the home, and 11% experienced physical abuse
Female students reported higher rates of poor mental health during the pandemic (49%) compared to male students (24%), as well as persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness (57% versus 31%). Poor mental health was also more prevalent amongst gay, lesbian, and bisexual students (64%) as well as other or questioning students (62%) than heterosexual students (30%). LGBTQ+ students were also more likely to seriously consider attempting suicide, with 47% of gay, lesbian, and bisexual students as well as 40% of students who identify as other or questioning saying they had considered the act, versus 14% of heterosexual students.
The CDC’s findings also showed that students who felt close to people at their school and were virtually connected to family, friends, or other groups during the pandemic were significantly less likely to struggle with feelings of hopelessness or consider suicide. “School connectedness is a key to addressing youth adversities at all times—especially during times of severe disruptions,” said Dr. Kathleen Ethier from the CDC. “Students need our support now more than ever, whether by making sure that their schools are inclusive and safe or by providing opportunities to engage in their communities and be mentored by supportive adults.”
With more than one in three high school students experiencing poor mental health and one in five seriously considering suicide, this crisis cannot be ignored. Read the full CDC report to learn more about their findings. For Gaggle’s findings during the 2020–21 school year, be sure to read our Through the Gaggle Lens: The State of Student Safety report.