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CDC: Nearly 3 in 5 Teen Girls Felt "Persistently" Sad or Hopeless in 2021

Nearly 3 in 5 teen girls in the US felt persistently sad or hopeless in 2021. According to the CDC, this is "double that of boys, representing a nearly 60% increase and the highest level reported over the past decade."

The CDC is now advising schools to put the right programs and services in place to support students.

“High school should be a time for trailblazing, not trauma. These data show our kids need far more support to cope, hope, and thrive,” says Debra Houry, M.D., M.P.H., CDC’s Chief Medical Officer and Deputy Director for Program and Science. “Proven school prevention programs can offer teens a vital lifeline in these growing waves of trauma.”

The CDC also found that:

  • Nearly 1 in 3 of teen girls considered attempting suicide. This is a nearly 60% increase from a decade ago.

  • 1 in 5 teen girls experienced sexual violence between 2020-2021.

  • 52% of LGBTQ+ students said they have experienced poor mental health.

“Young people are experiencing a level of distress that calls on us to act with urgency and compassion,” said CDC Division of Adolescent and School Health Director Kathleen Ethier, Ph.D. “With the right programs and services in place, schools have the unique ability to help our youth flourish.”

A report from the American Academy of Pediatrics found that when returning to school after losing a parent, students struggled to connect with their peers. The authors found schools and teachers were often ill-prepared to help support these children.

One glaring example of this was found in incidents where teachers discussed death in class without warning bereaved students beforehand. Improving teachers’ knowledge about how bereavement impacts children and their schooling will make them more comfortable in engaging with students who are grieving.

Our team at Elizabeth's Smile is working to conduct first-of-its kind research to update the science and help us better understand how to support children through the grief process. This includes academic, ethnographic, focus groups and clinical research. We've partnered with Harvard Medical School and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute to lead this effort.

The CDC report on students dealing with mental health issues and what we've found is lacking support for grieving children in schools is alarming to us. We need to do better for our children.

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