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  • Writer's picturedrjennifer_tauks

The Urgent Need to Support Our Teens

Therapists, teachers, parents, or members of the academic community are likely to be aware of the importance of supporting teenagers. However, one may not be aware of the recent urgency in doing so. According to the CDC's February 2023 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS report), youth mental health has continued to worsen, with increased harmful experiences towards teen girls. The report indicated that nearly 1 in 3 (30%) seriously considered attempting suicide—up nearly 60% from a decade ago; one in five (18%) experienced sexual violence in the past year, up to 20% since 2017, when the CDC started monitoring this measure; and more than 1 in 10 (14%) had ever been forced to have sex—up 27% since 2019. Therefore, it is crucial that schools, communities, parents, and higher education communities support teenagers by providing them with mental health resources and raising awareness about these disorders. In this blog post, I will discuss the findings of the CDC's report and why it is essential that we take action to support teens' mental health.


The CDC's February 2023 YRBS report shows that teen mental health is deteriorating

with an alarming and unprecedented trend in teenagers’ mental health. Teen girls experienced high levels of violence, sadness, and suicide. Teen girls aged 15 to 19 years face a 37% higher risk of suicide than teens of the same age in 2019. Moreover, during the 2021–2022 school year, nearly one in ten middle and high school students reported that they had seriously considered suicide during the past year. These recent reports make it clear that action needs to be taken immediately to help ensure that teenagers have access to the mental health resources they need and deserve.


Teens are reporting increased levels of anxiety, depression, and suicide

Nearly one in three girls considered attempting suicide, according to the CDC's February 2023 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) report, an astounding increase of nearly 60% from just a few years prior. This concerning statistic highlights the importance of addressing mental health among teens, as anxiety, depression, and suicide continue to take a toll on their emotional well-being. Therefore, it is essential that youths are provided with the necessary resources and support from adults to ensure that they can cope with their current mental health struggles and proactively manage their emotional states for a healthier present and future.


We need to do more to support our teens' mental health

In light of this trend in trauma, in our schools. communities, families, and institutes of higher education will be faced; it is clear that dedicated action is needed to support the mental health of teens. While physical and social health concerns have traditionally been given more attention in schools, the YRBS report indicates that mental health issues, such as depression, suicidal ideation, and substance use, are escalating, especially among adolescent girls. Interventions and support should be made available in middle and high schools to help mitigate this trend. This includes committing to teaching workshops to improve resilience, providing counseling services during school hours, and ensuring that teens receive comprehensive mental health screening regularly. Parents need help and support from community providers to assist in understanding and supporting their children’s needs. By addressing these issues and providing the necessary resources in our educational environment, teens can receive much-needed support for their mental well-being.


Some ways parents can support their teens' mental health include:

Parental support is an essential tool to help teenagers manage their mental health. Parenting styles can set up their children for a lifetime of emotional stability or distress; therefore, it is important that parents work to create an environment where their teenagers feel safe, heard, and validated. It is also important for parents to be aware of the community resources available to their teens, such as youth mental health organizations and free counseling services. Additionally, by actively engaging in conversations with their teens about mental health topics, they can encourage them to reach out when they need professional help. The CDC February 2023 YRBS Report provides data on adolescent responses to mental health issues and provides insight into how best parents can make positive changes to further support the safety of our young generations.


The Need to Link Community-Home-School Resources

The release of the CDC's February 2023 YRBS Report highlights the need to explore creative ways for family, school, and community resources can merge in order to support the growth and success of young adolescents. Looking at family, school, and community connection approaches could be beneficial in developing innovative strategies to optimize resource utilization, especially for those in need. Collectively, focusing on family-school-community synergy will pool available support, which can lead to enhanced educational achievements, reduced risk behaviors, and improved well-being among students. It is important to identify key areas where family school-community partnerships have the potential to provide academic support, access physical and mental health care services, or foster appropriate use of technology. These joint efforts require collaboration from all stakeholders, which allows schools to establish a comprehensive environment that meets the needs of all learners.


Therapists, Parents, and Schools facilitating conversations about risk behaviors with teens

The February 2023 YRBS Report from the CDC suggests that supporting open conversations about risk behaviors among teens, facilitated by therapists, parents, and schools, is essential for understanding and reducing those risks. Creating a supportive environment in which these conversations can take place is key, and it should be made clear that all parties involved feel safe in expressing their thoughts without fear of judgment or repercussions. Through such supportive, safe communication, families and educators alike can start to gain an understanding of the risk behaviors exhibited by teenagers and work together to reduce them.



The findings of the CDC's February 2023 YRBS report indicate an alarming deterioration in teen mental health issues. The increasing levels of anxiety, depression, and suicide are telling signs that much more needs to be done to ensure that our teens have access to mental health services. Parents, school faculty, and therapists alike should take time to understand these risks and ensure that teens feel comfortable expressing themselves openly and honestly. Open channels of communication need to be created so that teens can turn for support when needed rather than being left alone in their struggle with mental health. It is essential that meaningful labor is invested in finding creative solutions for fostering better emotional well-being among youth today, as it will help create a healthier foundation upon which they can build healthy relationships throughout adulthood. Lastly, gathering resources to increase the availability and affordability of therapy options should remain a top priority on our list of initiatives to support teenage mental health overall.


Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2023/p0213-yrbs.html)

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