Free Moms group volunteers to help college students' mental health
Nancy Nelson founded a group called Free Moms to support college students' mental health and help ease stress.LEARN MORE
The Youth Risk Behavior Study measured the state of teen behavior from 2011 to 2021 and found feelings of "sadness or hopelessness" increased.
The message is loud and clear: Teenage girls in America are in crisis.
"Over the past decade, teens — especially girls — have experienced dramatic increases in experiences of violence and poor mental health and suicide risk," said Debra Houry, CDC chief medical officer.
According to new data from the CDC, more than 1 in 4 girls reported they seriously considered suicide in 2021 — a 60% jump from 2011. And more than 1 in 10 girls reported they attempted suicide in 2021 — a 30% increase from 2011.
The CDC didn't say what it believes is causing this trend, but there are plenty of theories.
"There are a few different possibilities," said Mitch Prinstein, chief science officer at the American Psychological Association. "There's no doubt that stress plays a huge role and that the risk for psychological symptoms, and the stress that we're experiencing with severe polarization, with the pandemic, with social isolation and school shootings, this is definitely something that's important."
While the cause has yet to be formally declared, the CDC does offer solutions to help improve mental health among teenagers, including expanding mental health services and mental health education — something experts like Prinstein say is long overdue. While waiting for those changes, he says parents can take action immediately.
"Every kid themselves or someone they know really closely has thought of suicide, so we need to talk with kids about what they would do if they thought or someone they knew thought about suicide," Prinstein said. "Who they would tell, and can they identify immediate coping strategies?"
Until those changes at home and at school are made, experts don't have faith these numbers will change anytime soon.
If you need to talk to someone, reach out to the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. Call or text 988 or chat at 988lifeline.org.
This national network of local crisis centers provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
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