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Mental Health America says adolescents, teens seeing highest rates of depression amid pandemic

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Posted at 12:02 PM, Sep 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-17 12:02:18-04

One non-profit group says it's seeing higher reports of mental health issues among adolescents and teens amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Mental Health America, kids aged 11 to 17 are experiencing the highest rates of severe depression of any age group.

The organization says that 91% of the kids it has surveyed in the age group are showing "moderate to severe forms of depression," and 51% reported having thoughts of suicide most days within the past two weeks of the survey.

Mental Health America collects data from visitors to its website, who screen themselves.

"So they've obviously coming because they're concerned about themselves, and they're having difficult emotions or an experience that they don't understand," said Mental Health America president & CEO Schroeder Stribling. "So, they will be guided to resources to access, maybe a Community mental health clinic, a Mental Health America affiliate somewhere in their area, or offered other tips to find support in peer programs or online support that they can read or join from the web."

The organization also asks youths what they are looking for when they take these screenings. For most, it's just education.

Stribling says schools can play a critical role in bridging the mental health divide.

"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 reduces thoughts of suicide and reduces the number of suicide attempts among youth," Stribling said.

Another critical element to breaking the 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."

Click here to take the group's online mental health assessment. It's available for anyone of any age experiencing issues ranging from PTSD to eating disorders.

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.