The 2022 Minnesota Student Survey has provided some sobering news. The survey showed that there’s an increasing number of students experiencing anxiety and depression – particularly for girls, and those identifying as trans and non-binary.
Dr. Sarah Jerstad, medical director for outpatient mental health services at Children’s Minnesota, discusses the results from this survey and what they mean.
What did the survey say?
The 2022 survey let us know that the mental health crisis among our kids and teens is getting worse. This group of students reported greater struggles with mental health, such as depression and anxiety, than at any other time in the history of the survey.
Here are just a few of the alarming results:
- In 2019, 23% of students reported long-term mental health problems, but in 2022, 29% of students did. (Long-term means problems lasting six months or more.)
- The increase was even higher among female students at 45%.
- Reports of 11th graders having seriously considered suicide at some point in their life jumped to 28% in 2022, compared to 24% in 2019.
- The numbers are even more troubling for lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer (LGBQ+) and transgender students. LGBTQ+ students were about three times more likely than heterosexual students to report seriously considering suicide and four times more likely to attempt suicide than heterosexual students.
Has COVID-19 had an effect on the mental health of our kids?
The results of this survey give us a clearer look at what type of impact the pandemic disruptions have had on Minnesota youth. Things like school closures, distance learning, social distancing and other safety measures really took a toll on kids and teens.
- High school students: The pandemic added stress for high school students, upsetting their job prospects or college plans.
- Grade school students: The stay-at-home periods they experienced minimized their social interactions that encourage emotional and developmental growth.
How can I help my child with anxiety or depression?
The biggest way to help your child with anxiety or depression is to have open communication. Ask them how they are doing in school or about their friends. The sign that it may be a mental health issue is when you notice differences in their everyday life. Ask yourself, are they:
- Isolating themselves?
- Pulling away from friends?
- Losing interest in hobbies or sports?
If you’re concerned about your child’s mental health, a good starting place is your primary care provider or your school counselor, they can provide a connection bridge or resource. Learn more about mental health support at Children’s Minnesota here.