‘A CRY FOR HELP': CDC WARNS OF A STEEP DECLINE IN TEEN MENTAL HEALTH More than 4 in 10 told the health agency they felt ‘persistently sad or hopeless’ Washington Post, March 31, 2022 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning of an accelerating mental health crisis among adolescents, with more than 4 in 10 teens reporting that they feel “persistently sad or hopeless,” and 1 in 5 saying they have contemplated suicide, according to the results of a survey published Thursday. “These data echo a cry for help,” said Debra Houry, a deputy director at the CDC. “The COVID-19 pandemic has created traumatic stressors that have the potential to further erode students’ mental well-being.” The findings draw on a survey of a nationally representative sample of 7,700 teens conducted in the first six months of 2021, when they were in the midst of their first full pandemic school year. They were questioned on a range of topics, including their mental health, alcohol and drug use, and whether they had encountered violence at home or at school. They were also asked about whether they had encountered racism. Although young people were spared the brunt of the virus — falling ill and dying at much lower rates than older people — they might still pay a steep price for the pandemic, having come of age while weathering isolation, uncertainty, economic turmoil and, for many, grief. The CDC survey paints a portrait of a generation reeling from the pandemic, grappling with food insecurity, academic struggles, poor health and abuse at home. Nearly 30 percent of the teens surveyed said a parent or other adult in their home lost work during the pandemic, and a quarter struggled with hunger. Two-thirds said they had difficulty with schoolwork.