The Pandemic of Teen Mental Health Declining

Jocelyn Rodriguez, Staff Writer

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the information from the Youth Risk Behavior survey taken in 2021 by high school students on Feb. 13th, 2023; the results were shocking. CDC Division of Adolescent and School Health Director Kathleen Ethier felt overwhelmed when reading over them. 

According to the results released, of the 17,232 students who took the survey, 60% of teenage girls felt constant sadness and hopelessness, 30% considered suicide, 18% experienced sexual violence, and 14% were raped. Girls who experience sexual violence increased by 20% between 2017 and 2021. These statistics are the highest ever seen. It calls for action by parents, educators, and policymakers. Such violence can cause anxious thoughts. Unfortunately, teenage girls do not receive the help they need or fully understand when they need to reach out when they are struggling.

For LGBTQ+ and female teenagers, mental health reports have increased rapidly, more so than the average teenager. In studies done by the CDC, when girls start to hit puberty, the rate of depression and anxiety increases. This statistic relates to the trauma faced during adolescence. Moreover, victimization, sexual victimization, and bullying, both online and in person, contribute to rates of depression and anxiety. Those who suffer from depression are incapable of doing normal school activities, such as homework or participating in sports. 

Social media plays a massive role in mental health rates. The CDC connected the use of technology to the risk of suicide. After using technology constantly during the COVID-19 pandemic, what teens need is in-person socialization. Dr. Stephanie Eken, a pediatrician and adolescent psychiatrist at Rogers Behavioral Health in Wisconsin, says the lack of socialization elevates loneliness. According to, in-person socialization can help lighten a person’s mood and “promotes a sense of safety, belonging, and security.” Exposing teenagers to in-person socializing can help disintegrate the urge of isolation and allow the feeling of contentment to take over.

Eating disorders have spiked due to the vicious acts of cyberbullying and unrealistic beauty standards in today’s society. Social media applications promote thin and “perfect” body types, which are almost impossible to attain. These harmful posts influence young teenagers into thinking that the way their body looks is wrong, creating a negative body image. Teenagers can follow body-positive movements on social media to help clear away the impractical beauty standards constantly being thrown into their feeds and educate themselves and others on the dangers of unrealistic beauty standards.

Teachers and parents can offer their support to teenagers going through a rough time. School activities can have a significant impact on teens’ mental health. It can help connect students to their classmates through helpful clubs, so they don’t isolate themselves and know that they are not alone in the complicated situation they might be in. Here at Castaic High school, students can go to the Zen Den, in room 212, to decompress and talk to a professional therapist about the struggles they might be facing. They can also join clubs like BC2M and the Wellness Ambassadors to help students who cannot reach out and further educate them on mental health. By taking these helpful steps, schools can inform teenagers of the knowledge, skills, and support needed to prevent and reduce the effects of violence and other trauma. Schools should hold informational assemblies to provide information about essential skills, like understanding proper sexual consent and managing one’s emotions. They can also normalize mental health conversations in the classroom, with parents, and with peers, so the feeling of belongingness can increase. It is advised that parents try to be close to their teens to create a safe environment for these teenagers.

Although school activities cannot help or save everyone, they can still help those who want to receive help and get better. Teenagers can learn about helpful resources available, and adults can learn to ask for what teenagers need. Taking these steps will help decrease the mental health challenges that teenagers today struggle with, creating a bright future for our generation.