New Colorado survey shows COVID-19 youth mental health effects with an increase in depression
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - After collecting data during the fall of last year, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has released the results for the newest Healthy Kids Colorado Survey. The last time the survey was conducted was in 2019, and mental health issues have worsened compared to before the COVID-19 pandemic.
The survey is administered to students at Colorado public middle and high schools.
According to the survey, 40% of youth experienced feelings of depression in the past year, up from 35% in 2019. Additionally, 51% of youth felt daily stress more often during the COVID-19 pandemic. Suicide rates were also higher among youth who are transgender, gay, lesbian, bisexual, asexual, non-binary or multi-racial.
However, according to the survey, substance abuse has decreased.
“What we found is that more youth are experiencing feelings of depression more than ever before. We also found a steep decline in substance use,” says Emily Fine, the school and youth manager for the state health department. “I would think that there’s something related to the pandemic that persists with these outcomes that we’re seeing.”
The state health department attributes the decrease in substance abuse to the youth of Colorado finding substances less available, but also more risky.
“The good news is that youth think that using these substances is more risky than ever before, that they would be harmed by these substances,” states Fine.
Stacey Jenkins, the director for an anonymous reporting agency Safe2Tell, also highlighted another issue the pandemic presented: a decrease in reporting.
“The biggest impact from the pandemic was a decrease in tips. And that is typical when students are not in the school building,” Jenkins says. “So during the pandemic when students were engaged in remote learning, we saw our tip volume fall by 45%”
Safe2Tell urges the public to always err on the side of reporting to a trusted adult when they or a friend are experiencing issues with mental health, substance abuse or parental neglect, among other possible dangers.
Resources to report a person in need of help are available by clicking here.
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