It’s been a year since the word “COVID” became part of our national vocabulary. Lives have been lost, families have struggled to survive, and our collective mental health has suffered in unimaginable ways. We have all felt grief, uncertainty, and stress — and our nation’s youth are no exception. Even before the pandemic hit, many students were suffering from mental health conditions, which are only compounded for those who experience trauma from racial disparities, poverty, food insecurity, abuse, and more.
From 2009 to 2017, rates of depression increased by more than 60% among kids ages 14 to 17. Additionally, the rate of young adults with suicidal thoughts, plans, attempts, and deaths by suicide increased from 7% to 10.3%. COVID-19 has fueled the fire in myriad ways. With a little strategy and a lot of dedication, we can absolutely make a difference. Addressing the mental health of our nation’s youth must be a priority, not an afterthought.