Following the release of the Healthy Youth Survey data, officials with the Washington Department of Health says that it shows a high and increasing number of Washington youth reported feeling so sad or hopeless they stopped a usual activity or seriously considered suicide in the past year.
It also shows that the number of students who reported feeling anxious, nervous or on edge or not being able to stop worrying is also on the rise.
Based on statewide rates, a typical 10th grade classroom of 29 students would include about:
According to their review of the survey results, it also shows disparities with certain groups of students feeling distress at significantly higher rates.
This includes female students and students who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual reporting higher rates of feeling sad, hopeless or anxious, and were more likely to have experienced bullying in the past month.
They add that the differences in rates for racial and ethnic groups vary from question to question, but non-Hispanic students who are Native American/Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander or multiracial experience higher rates of feeling sad or hopeless than students who are non-Hispanic and white.
While the trends are concerning, adults and peers can help students in distress. Caring adults, along with knowledgeable schools and communities, can help young people feel connected to a support network and learn skills to cope with the challenges they face. Talking to an empathetic listener and using coping skills can help de-escalate a crisis. Suicide is preventable and mental health conditions can be treated.
Here’s how to help:
Everyone can play a role in supporting youth mental health. To learn more about the Healthy Youth Survey and access data reports and resources, visit www.AskHYS.net.
The Healthy Youth Survey is administered every other year by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Department of Health, Health Care Authority and Liquor and Cannabis Board. In 2018, more than 230,000 students throughout Washington state took the survey.