Mental Health: The State of the Students
We see headlines daily addressing the current youth mental health crisis. Research shows there has been a dramatic increase in mental illness, anxiety, depression, and suicide among youth. Students today are facing significant cultural pressures and negative messages that generations before them have never experienced. In addition, they are navigating extreme levels of isolation and loneliness brought on by the pandemic. Here are some alarming statistics:
- 7 in 10 teens are struggling with their mental health in the wake of COVID-19, with 64% believing it will have a lasting impact on their mental health. National 4‑H Council
- 2.5 million youth in the U.S. have severe depression due to factors like the pandemic and the permeation of social media. Mental Health America, 2022 Key Findings Report
- 1 in 6 youth reported making a suicide plan in 2019, a 44% increase since 2009. –CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Data Summary & Trends Report: 2009-2019
What is Mental Health?
According to MentalHealth.gov, mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood. There are many factors that contribute to mental health problems, including:
- Biological factors, such as genes or brain chemistry
- Life experiences, such as trauma or abuse
- Family history of mental problems
The Importance of Youth Mental Health
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states, “Mental health problems in youth often go hand-in-hand with other health and behavioral risks like increased risk of drug use, experiencing violence, and higher risk sexual behaviors than can lead to HIV, STDs, and unintended pregnancy. Because many health behaviors and habits are established in adolescence that will carry over into adult years, it is very important to help youth develop good mental health.” There are many benefits to good mental health, including:
- Improves mood
- Increases self-esteem
- Clearer thinking
- The feeling of connectedness, which can protect adolescents from other risks like drug use and violence
4 Ways Youth Can Develop Good Mental Health Habits
- Deep Breathing: Try implementing the breathing technique 4:4:4:4 into your daily routine. Over time, this will help you to feel more relaxed, and can help to improve your overall mental health. This routine could take place in the morning before you get ready for school, in the bathroom right before class, after school before starting your homework, or at night before going to bed. How it works: Take a deep breath in for 4 seconds; Hold that breath for 4 seconds; Exhale breath for 4 seconds; Repeat process 4 times.
- Create Routines: Research shows predictable, repetitive routines are calming and can help reduce anxiety. They also help you take control of your day and subsequently, your life.
- Progress, Not Perfection: Progress means you are moving toward a goal. Having perfect days isn’t obtainable but making a bit of progress over time can lead to a big result. The goal is not to be perfect, but to make progress each day.
- Talk to a Trusted Adult: If you are having any negative thoughts or feelings, ask for help from a trusted adult (a parent, school counselor, teacher, coach, etc.) Feeling overwhelmed isn’t something you should deal with alone, and they can help to ensure you get the support you need.
How to Support Youth and Their Mental Health
The best way to support students and their mental health is to make them feel connected to positive peers, family, and a healthy school environment. In a recent Mental Health America paper titled Youth and Young Adult Peer Support, “People struggling with their mental health found that peers and their communities were essential in not just understanding their challenges but also building solutions.”
This is why our Youth Equipped to Succeed positive youth development programs are vital; because we believe A connected student is a protected student.® The YES mission gives K-12th grade students the opportunity to choose a positive path; to put their dreams and goals above social pressures; to know their value and self-worth; and to connect them to positive peers who will support them through adversity.
More specifically, our student mental health programs (offered to 3rd-12th grades) destigmatize common misconceptions around mental health and provide tools to help them navigate life’s challenges.
Book a YES Mental Health Program!
Want to learn more about our student mental health programs? Please send us a message through our Book Now page, and someone from our YES team will be in touch with you within 1 business day.