The Youth Risk Behavioral Survey , put out by the CDC every two years just came out for 2021 data, and sadly our teens are struggling more with suicide and mental health issues. This survey looks at all kinds of other risk issues too, since 2011….pregnancy, and sexual behaviors, substance abuse, and violence. If only DBT could be taught in the schools……WAIT!!! It CAN be! We have DBT STEPS-A which is a classroom curriculum to teach skills in schools. Why aren’t we doing more? We also need more ready access to competently trained mental health providers who provide evidence-based treatments. This is my current passion……to train clinicians and implement DBT so there is more access to this exceptional treatment.

Here is a summary of the findings:

  • 42% of students reported feeling persistently sad or hopeless in the past year. Nearly 60% of female students and nearly 70% of those who identified as LGBQ+* reported persistent sadness and hopelessness. 
  • 22% of students reported having seriously considered attempting suicide during the past year. In 2021, 30% of females reported having such thoughts—a jump from 19% in 2011. In 2021, 14% of males reported having such thoughts compared with 13% in 2011.
  • 10% of students attempted suicide at least once in the past year. The percentage of female students who attempted suicide increased from 10% in 2011 to 13% in 2021. The percentage of male students who attempted suicide increased from 6% in 2011 to 7% in 2021.
  • Sexual behavior: The proportion of high school students who engaged in sexual behaviors that increase their risks for HIV, STDs, and unintended pregnancy decreased from 2011 to 2021.
  • Substance use: Overall substance use among high school students decreased from 2011 to 2021. However, the percentage of students who used electronic vapor products or misused prescription opioids has not changed in recent years.
  • Experiencing violence: Although bullying at school decreased from 2011 to 2021, the percentage of students who missed school because of safety concerns and experienced sexual violence increased.

Mental Health Found to Be Worsening Among U.S. High School Students