GREENFIELD, Massachusetts (WWLP): A recent annual survey of 8th, 10th, and 12th grade students in Franklin and North Quabbin County shows that students with symptoms of depression have increased ten percent since 2019.
The Communities that Care Coalition conducted the survey for nearly two decades. The Coalition works with local schools to collect and provide valuable data on adolescents ’relationships with their school, their families, and substance use.
With last year’s huge changes, the 2021 survey was adapted to better reflect the questions raised about the impacts of COVID and quarantine on young people.
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More than 1,500 students from Franklin County and North Quabbin nine school districts participated in the survey during February of this year, providing valuable information on COVID-related behaviors and health concerns. largely in mental health, the fastest growing problem identified in the survey. .
When asked what worries them most, the three main concerns of students were climate change, social justice issues, and their appearance. Fears of COVID becoming personally ill were lower than most other concerns.
Student reports of symptoms of depression (measured by responding students who were so sad or desperate almost every day for two weeks or more in a row that they stopped doing some of their regular activities) have been on the rise over the past decade. .
Adolescent mental health was already high in 2019 when 32% of students reported symptoms of depression. The number increased to 42% of students in 2021. Similar increases were observed in reported anxiety symptoms, with rates increasing from 33% in 2019 to 43% in 2021.
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In addition to high rates of loneliness and isolation, the survey examined poor mental health contributors, such as inadequate sleep (nearly half of students sleep six or fewer hours a night). Other contributors included an increase in computer time (more than half of the students reported spending four or more hours a day, in addition to the hours they already spent on screen doing homework and schoolwork). School stress was another contributing factor (not surprisingly, the vast majority of students found school to be more stressful and less enjoyable than before COVID).
On a positive note, the survey showed NO change in the percentage of students who reported serious suicide in the last year. This figure remained constant at 17%.
You can find the results of the 2021 Adolescent Health Survey on the Communities that Care Coalition website.