New CDC data suggest decline in youth mental health during COVID-19

LOS ANGELES, March 31 (Xinhua) -- A new study published Thursday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found more than a third of high school students reported in 2021 they experienced poor mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A student receives a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Woodrow Wilson Senior High School in Los Angeles, California, the United States, on Aug. 30, 2021. (Photo: Xinhua)

Meanwhile, 44 percent of high school students reported they persistently felt sad or hopeless during the past year, according to the new data.

The new analysis also described some of the severe challenges youth encountered during the pandemic. More than half reported they experienced emotional abuse by a parent or other adult in the home. More than a quarter reported a parent or other adult in their home lost a job, according to CDC data.

In addition, over a third of students said they experienced racism before or during the COVID-19 pandemic. The highest levels were reported among Asian students, African American students and students of multiple races, according to the CDC study.

The study, which is the CDC's first nationally representative survey of high school students during the pandemic, can inform effective programs, said the CDC in a statement.

"These data echo a cry for help," said CDC Acting Principal Deputy Director Debra Houry. "The COVID-19 pandemic has created traumatic stressors that have the potential to further erode students' mental wellbeing. Our research shows that surrounding youth with the proper support can reverse these trends and help our youth now and in the future."