This week Governor Kathy Hochul released the key findings of a summary report of the Youth Listening Tour, held in counties statewide earlier this spring, outlining both findings and recommendations on how to best address the youth mental health crisis.
The Governor released the summary report at the first-ever New York State Summit on Youth Mental Health at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City, where she was joined by national mental health experts, youth advocates and providers, parents and caregivers, law enforcement specialists, educators, and over 1,000 attendees to examine the unprecedented mental health challenges many young people face.
“The isolation and uncertainty we experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact young people, who navigated key developmental milestones during this unstable time,” Governor Hochul said. “The era of ignoring and underinvesting in mental health is over – it is time for us to be the agents of change that our children so desperately need at this moment. I am proud to convene this historic summit bringing together the brightest minds in the world to share ideas, hear the experiences of our youth, and continue to drive this important conversation forward.”
The Summit on Youth Mental Health convened leaders, experts, and youth themselves to discuss the findings in the Youth Listening Tour summary report, which included several overall themes such as:
- The impact of the pandemic varied among youth and over time.
- Youth keenly understand the benefits and risks of social media and potential strategies to support healthy use.
- Developing positive peer relationships and social skills is challenging, and youth are calling for multiple school and community-based approaches to assist in the development of interpersonal skills and friendships.
- Youth highly value confidentiality, and why they perceive privacy and confidentiality has been violated it deters youth from developing connections with adults and seeking help.
- Youth prefer mental health interactions with trusted adults who are like them (age, demographics) and reported an overall perception of a lack of empathy and cultural sensitivity in adults.
- Youth want increased accountability for other students, teachers, and school policies.
Based on the findings from the Youth Listening Tour and the discussions held at the Summit on Youth Mental Health, several youth recommendations emerged, including:
- Investing in community-based resources for recreation and mental wellness promotion.
- Youth-vetted training on navigating social media.
- Increased mental health resources that are free/low-cost, confidential, respectful, and culturally competent.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released new data just today that showed suicide rates among the 10-24 age group reached a 20-year-high in 2021. Earlier this year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued its Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which found alarming mental health trends among school-aged youth between 2011 and 2021– especially among teen girls. Nearly a third of teen girls seriously considered attempting suicide in 2021, an increase from 19 percent the prior decade; and about three in five reported persistent sadness or hopelessness in 2021, representing a nearly 60 percent increase over the rate recorded in 2011. The U.S. Surgeon General more recently released a report on “Social Media and Youth Mental Health”, directly examining the impacts of social media on children and adolescents, as they relate to mental health and well-being concerns.
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