CDC report highlights challenges teens faced during pandemic

CDC study shows youth mental health threats during pandemic
Published: Apr. 4, 2022 at 3:59 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - The pandemic heightened mental health problems people of all ages were experiencing, but a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention highlights what teens were facing.

The report said according to new data from 2021, 37 percent of high school students reported they experienced poor mental health during the pandemic, and 44 percent said they felt persistently sad or hopeless.

The report also details challenges youth faced at home. More than half experienced emotional abuse from a parent or another adult inside the home, and 11 percent experienced physical abuse.

Dr. Kristy Donaldson, owner of Premier Neurofeedback Counseling Services said she was not surprised to see the numbers. She said kids were impacted by challenges their parents faced, like losing a job.

“That creates emotional issues within that parent and inability to really be able to handle that stress well,” Dr. Donaldson said. “And maybe they weren’t handling it great before, but now they have all of this extra pressure on them, and so they are taking it out in the home where most of them were most of the time.”

As we recover from the pandemic, Dr. Donaldson said teenagers will be able to connect with their communities again whether that’s in schools or sporting events and that will be an important step.

“They provide opportunities to be with others,” Dr. Donaldson said. “You’re in a classroom with other kids. Oftentimes, there’s group things going on, there’s conversations, and then just the added bonus of...going to a classroom where an adult is there who cares about kids who sees them every single day and can tell when something doesn’t seem right.”

Dr. Donaldson said teachers and educators are some of the most valuable resources for kids, and they are often the first to recognize changes.

If students are less talkative, or not taking care of themselves or are more tired, both physically and emotionally, Dr. Donaldson said teachers and parents should be aware, since those are all warning signs that something is wrong.

Even though the worst stages of the pandemic are behind us, Dr. Donaldson said it’s still important to watch out for those signs.

”We have people that are still trying to find jobs again, now that people are opening back up and hiring,” Dr. Donaldson said. “With that comes parental stress, and that parental stress will continue within that home and that child is absorbing it even even if the parent is doing the very best job at trying to buffer that for the child.”

Dr. Donaldson added right now, it’s important to check in on one another. She said everyone should consider talking with a professional. More information about the CDC report is available here.

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