Sadness and violence among this group is at an all-time high

Sadness and violence among this group is at an all-time high

The number of teenage girls and LGBTQ+ youth experiencing sadness, sexual violence and hopelessness is at an all-time high, according to recent data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Almost 57 percent of U.S. teen girls reported feeling persistently sad or hopeless in 2021, a 60 percent increase from data collected in 2011. The number of teenage girls who reported experiencing sexual violence increased by 20 percent since 2017. Additionally, more than half of LGBTQ+ students reported poor mental health, and almost a quarter attempted suicide in the past year.

The CDC has been collecting data on youth mental health for more than 30 years as part of what they call “a critical first step to revealing, understanding, and addressing emerging threats to the health and well-being of the nation’s youth.”

Dr. Malcolm Vandrevala, a child and adolescent psychiatrist with Advocate Children’s Hospital, says while there are many factors that impact the mental health of an individual, it’s important to consider the effect COVID had on the mental health and well-being of teens.

“We’ve always known adolescents are a vulnerable population when it comes to mental health struggles,” he says. “The pandemic caused an increase in mental health struggles across all ages, but teenagers continue to be particularly susceptible.”

He explains the critical impact a teen’s school environment plays when it comes to improving mental health and reducing the impact of violence and trauma.

“Children spend more time at school than virtually anywhere else. It’s crucial that kids feel safe and comfortable in that setting. Schools have the ability to make a tremendous impact through prevention programs and by having social supports in place. It’s truly a unique opportunity to educate kids not just academically, but socially and emotionally.”

Find behavioral health treatment and programs near you. Learn more about your options: Illinois | Wisconsin.

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About the Author

Holly Brenza
Holly Brenza

Holly Brenza, health enews contributor, is a public affairs coordinator on the content team at Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago. In her free time, Holly enjoys reading, watching the White Sox and Blackhawks, playing with her dog, Bear and running her cats' Instagram account, @strangefurthings.