As students head back to school, HopeSpoke (hopespoke.org) reminds parents and caregivers that mental health is an important part of overall well-being and to create space for youth to share their feelings.
In Nebraska, 36% of youth in grades nine-12 reported symptoms of depression in 2021, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey (www.cdc.gov) asked students whether they had experienced feelings of sadness or hopelessness for at least two weeks in a row to the extent that it affected their usual activities.
The number was even higher for female students (49%), and for LGBTQ+ students (66%). And, 19% of Nebraska high-schoolers said they had seriously considered attempting suicide. (Data from the 2021 survey are the most recent figures available).
In addition to listening, you can help your student by watching for withdrawal from family, friends or activities; changes in appetite or sleep patterns; destructive behavior; comments indicating a desire to harm self or others; and substance use or abuse.
HopeSpoke serves children and teens with a variety of mental health services, including outpatient therapy available in person or via telehealth. HopeSpoke therapists are also available within Lincoln Public Schools at the elementary, middle and high school levels. A sliding-fee scale is available, and no one is denied services for financial reasons. To learn more about mental health services for youth, or to support HopeSpoke’s work, please visit hopespoke.org or call (402) 475-7666.