New CDC data reveals rates of poor mental health and suicidality on the rise for youth in the U.S.

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Key Takeaways

On February 13, 2023, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released the Youth Risk Behavior Survey Data Summary & Trends Report: 2011-2019, which provides data on health-related behaviors that contribute to the leading causes of death amongst youth and adults. This national, school-based survey is conducted every two years for public and private school students in 9th-12th grade and covers questions related to substance use, mental health, suicidality, sexual behaviors and experiences of violence.

This most recent report highlights rising rates of poor mental health and suicidality amongst our youth population, demonstrating a critical need to bolster federal support for counties in order to address this growing mental health crisis in our youth.

Some key findings from the survey:

  • 29 percent of survey respondents felt they had poor mental health in the last 30 days.
  • 42 percent of students felt so sad or hopeless for the past 2 weeks that they could not go about their usual activities.
  • Over half (57 percent) of female students felt persistent feelings of sadness (An increase from 46 percent in 2019)
    • 29 percent for males (An increase from 26 percent in 2019)
    • 69 percent of LGBTQ youth

Further findings related to suicidality:

  • In 2021, 22 percent of high school students seriously considered attempting suicide.
  • Nearly 1 in 3 (30 percent) of female students considered attempting suicide.
  • 45 percent of LGBTQ+ students considered attempting suicide and 22 percent attempted suicide.
  • Female students were more likely than male students to attempt suicide. In 2021, 13 percent of female students attempted suicide, as compared to 7 percent of male students.
  • Higher rates of attempted suicide for American Indian/Alaskan Native and Black students. Survey data reports that American Indian/Alaskan Native and Black youth were more likely to attempt suicide, with 16 percent and 14 percent respectively, than Asian (6 percent), Hispanic (11 percent), and White (9 percent) students.

To learn more about CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey, view here.

NACo  continues to advocate for county behavioral health priorities at the federal level, as well as provide access to resources and opportunities for counties to work with intergovernmental partners to develop effective solutions to mental health challenges in local communities. To further emphasize our commitment to responding to the national mental health crisis, NACo recently announced a new Commission on Mental Health and Wellbeing, bringing together 14 county leaders from across the country. This group, unveiled at NACo’s Legislative Conference, will work to elevate the critical role that counties play in providing high-quality, accessible mental health services, showcase county innovations and solutions and outline the intergovernmental and public-private partnerships required to reimagine and strengthen our nation’s mental health policies, programs and practices. 

Click here to learn more about the commission’s priorities and proposed work. 

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