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Teens, especially girls, are experiencing more violence, suicidal thoughts and mental health challenges – Experts

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A new survey has revealed that teen girls in the United States of America experienced record high levels of violence, sadness and suicide risk in recent years.
This is coming amid “significant” and “heartbreaking” declines in youth health and well-being overall, according to data published by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Responses for the CDC’s bi-annual Youth Risk Behavior Survey were collected in the fall of 2021, offering the first look at trends since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The director of the CDC’s division of adolescent and school health, at a media briefing, Kathleen Ethier, said, “Many measures were moving in the wrong direction before the pandemic. These data show the mental health crisis among young people continues. The findings are “alarming.”

As reported by the Cable News Network, the survey found increasing mental health challenges, experiences of violence, and suicidal thoughts and behavior among all teens. More than 40 per cent of high school students said that feelings of sadness or hopelessness prevented them from engaging in their regular activities for at least two weeks of the year.

According to the CDC, most teen girls (57%) felt persistently sad or hopeless in 2021, double the rate for teen boys (29%). Nearly one in three teen girls seriously considered attempting suicide. Both rates “increased dramatically” over the past decade.

CDC’s chief medical officer and deputy director for program and science, Dr. Debra Houry, said, “These data show a distressing picture. America’s teen girls are engulfed in a growing wave of sadness, violence and trauma.”
Few measures of adolescent health and well-being showed continued improvement, including declines in risky sexual behavior, substance use and bullying at school. But most other indicators “worsened significantly,” according to the CDC report.

The latest data show increases in the proportion of youth who did not go to school because of safety concerns. There were also increases in teen girls experiencing sexual violence and teen boys experiencing electronic bullying.

Nearly one in five teen girls (18%) had experienced sexual violence in the past year and about one in seven (14%) had ever been forced to have sex.

“These data are clear: our young people are in crisis,” Ethier said.

CDC leaders, along with National PTA President Anna King, emphasized the important role schools play.

“Schools are on the front lines of the mental health crisis and they must be equipped with the proven tools that help students thrive,” Houry said.

Among those tools are training for staff to recognize and manage mental health challenges, counseling and mentorship programs and others that encourage connection and intervention.

King called for a concerted action from Congress to address the youth mental health crisis and emphasized the importance of regular conversations about mental health.

She said, “It’s critical to talk with our children about what they’re feeling and their concerns. “I’m urging our families to come together, look for signs, look for ways that you can have these conversations with your children. Get to know them. Have these routine conversations all the time.”

Houry said, “Many of the challenges facing youth health and well-being are “preventable,” “When I look toward our young people’s future, I want to be filled with hope, not heartbreak.”

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