New CDC report: High school students suffered from mental health struggles during pandemic

Florida Phoenix | By Issac Morgan | March 31, 2022

High school students across the nation struggled with mental health issues during the COVID-19 pandemic, including emotional abuse at the hands of parents or other adults, federal health officials said on Thursday.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report revealing that more than a third (37.1 percent), or approximately one in three students in grades 9-12, had reported “poor mental health” for most of the time during the pandemic.

The CDC conducted a survey from January to June of 2021, totaling 7,998 high school students attending public and private schools, according to the report. Of those figures, 7,705 of the surveys “had valid data.”

COVID-19 disrupted school districts across Florida and other states, resulting in remote learning and hybrid models for many students as a safety measure to prevent infections.

In addition, CDC data show that 44.2 percent of students surveyed experienced “persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness” that caused them to stop “doing usual activities.” About 20 percent “seriously considered suicide, and 9 percent attempted suicide,” during the 12 months before the survey.

Overall, teens in the survey reported high rates of emotional abuse but even higher rates for students from the LGBTQ community, according to CDC’s survey. About 55 percent of respondents said they “experienced emotional abuse by a parent or other adult in their home,” and around 11 percent reported physical abuse.

For LGBTQ students, “prevalence of emotional and physical abuse by a parent or other adult in the home was highest among students who identified as gay, lesbian, or bisexual (74 percent physical abuse and 20 percent emotional abuse),” the CDC wrote.

Still, CDC data show that students who felt more connected to others at school “had a significantly lower prevalence of poor mental health during the pandemic.” Around 46 percent of students “strongly agreed or agreed that they felt close to persons at school.”

“School connectedness is a key to addressing youth adversities at all times – especially during times of severe disruptions,” Kathleen Ethier, director of CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health, said in a statement.

“Students need our support now more than ever, whether by making sure that their schools are inclusive and safe or by providing opportunities to engage in their communities and be mentored by supportive adults.”

The survey results found that most students relied on virtual methods of communication to connect with their loved ones, with “71.8 percent of students sometimes, most of the time, or always spent time virtually” with family, friends, and others. That included using devices such as a computer, phone, or other technology to connect remotely.

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