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CDC Report says mental health issues spiked among high schoolers during pandemic

James Gathany
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Federal health officials are reporting a spike in mental health issues among high school students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than a third of high school students say they dealt with poor mental health in 2021, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report also reveals some disparities. LGBTQ and female students reported even worse mental health during the pandemic.

More than a third of students said they have experienced racism before or during the pandemic, with Asian students, Black students and students of multiple races reporting the highest levels.

"The CDC declares racism a serious public threat," said Kathleen Ethier with the CDC, "and our data help show us why."

Previous data from the CDC shows youth mental health was declining even before the pandemic, with more high school students reporting persistent sadness or hopelessness.

Ethier says that peer support is vital for students' mental wellbeing.

“Decades of research have demonstrated that youth who feel connected at school are less likely to experience negative health outcomes related to mental health, substance use, violence, and sexual risk," she said.

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Solomon Wilson is KERA's Marjorie Welch Fitts Louis Fellow. He focuses on covering racial equity, women’s rights, socioeconomic disparities and other evolving issues of social justice in our community.