Student Mental Health Problems Continue To Get Worse
Even though students these days are doing fewer drugs like cocaine, heroin, and amphetamines, and having significantly less sex, the rates of depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts have increased. Because of this, student mental health problems are increasingly becoming an issue of concern (1).
According to the New York Times, one in seven high school students revealed they had abused prescription opioids at least once before (1).
Increasing Levels Of Students’ Unhappiness
The new survey revealed that students aren’t having as much risky sex as they once were, but are significantly less happy.
The rates of “sadness or hopelessness,” have increased by a few points in comparison to their nationwide survey in 2007 (1).
Moreover, the number of kids to leave school, or take a day off to avoid bullying had increased as well (1).
And the rates are the highest among kids belonging under the LGBTQ umbrella.
One in 5 students revealed they had been bullied in school. And 1 in 10 female students and 1 in 28 male students reported they had been forced to have sex(1).
However, one could ask how they go about asking the questions.
It’s possible that the phrasing of the questions, or their definition of the terms, expanding the umbrella under which the behavior falls under, leads to an increase in results.
How They Ask The Questions, And The Definition Of The Terms May Play A Role
For instance, the rates of rape in Sweden are extraordinarily high for a developed nation. In fact, they have one of the highest rates of sexual assault in the world (2).
In 2015, they had 5,198 accusations of rape out of 100,000. But despite the number of accusations, there are usually around 175 convictions each year (2).
The way they measure the rate is the reason for its size.
The Swedish government calls any form of sexual assault “rape,” and strongly encourages women to speak out against harassment and assault (3).
If We’re To Believe The Survey Results – Then There’s Definitely A Problem
Nevertheless, if we’re to believe that the survey hasn’t changed the way in which they measure these outcomes, then the rates of mental illness are increasing.
An official working for the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, who looked at the data, said an “adolescent’s world can be bleak.”
And there’s no doubt about that.
It isn’t hard for most to remember what it was like to sit in a classroom eight hours a day listening to an underpaid and overworked teacher discuss subjects that a majority of students know they’ll never use.
Teenagers struggle with many different problems at once, including family concerns, scholastic performance, and the fear of ostracization from their social group.
Students Complain Of Suicidal Ideation And Hopelessness
Supposedly, around 17 percent of students said they consistently felt hopeless, as though suicide was an option (1). In 2017, 31% of students said they felt that way in comparison to 28% in 2007 (1).
In 2017, 14 percent of students said they actually devised a plan for killing themselves, a 3% increase from the previous study in 2007 (1).
The survey, called the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, revealed that even though the students aren’t doing as many risky things, it’s clear they’re not nearly as happy.
Students Aren’t Having As Much Sex
The survey reported that the students aren’t having as much sex or doing as many drugs.
However, the students who are having sex show a general tendency to not use condoms. More girls are using birth control, but fewer students are wearing condoms.
And if teenagers are increasingly beginning to use opioid drugs, the lack of proper contraception use is a disaster combined with substance abuse.
But this is the first time that the survey asked if students had ever tried prescription drugs.
David C Harvey, a social worker, and director for the National Coalition of STD Directors said that it was possible that the small increase in opioid use may have led to the spread of disease.
A Small Increase In Opioid Use Likely Doesn’t Lead To Increased Levels Of STI’s
However, it seems unlikely that a minimal number of students using opioids, 1 in 7, would increase the rates of sexually transmitted disease. Even though Harvey believes that to be the case.
The spread of disease probably has more to do with the lack of proper contraception use, something in which he noted there was a decline.
The Students Who Are Sexually Active Don’t Use Contraception As Much
Around 54% of the students who are sexually active used condoms the last time they had sex, which decreased from 62% in 2007 (1).
Across racial differences, kids are having less sex in general. White students who said they had sex decreased from 44% to 39%, black students from 66% to 46%, and Hispanics decreased from 52% to 41% (1).
At the aggregate level, the percentage dropped from 48% in 2007, to 39% in 2017 (1).
Moreover, the experience of dating violence also went down from 10% in 2013 to 7% in 2017 (1).
Dr. Mermin explained that the attention paid by parents plays a huge role in the health struggles of their children.
And if we’re to decrease the rates of mental illness and drug abuse in children, schools can offer all kinds of programs meant to teach coping methods.
The Effects Of Bullying And Drug Abuse Are More Prevalent Among LGBTQ Teens
And while heterosexual students of all races show declines in risky behavior, gay and bisexual students continue to have higher rates of such behavior.
They increasingly feel threatened by other students.
According to the 2015 survey, three times as many gay students as heterosexual students reported they had been forced into sexual intercourse (1).
And in 2017, four times as many gay students as heterosexual said they had been raped. The report revealed they were far more likely to avoid going to school because of bullying (1).
Where the students lived also had an impact on the levels of sexual violence, drug use, and intercourse rates. For instance, New York had a rate of 31% of students who had ever had sex (1).
In Delaware, 45%, and in South Carolina, 39% (1).
But, for some reason, kids aren’t using condoms as much as they used to. Maybe there hasn’t been as much talk about the importance of using proper contraception.
Dr. Hermin said there has been a decrease in the number of disease prevention education programs over time. So, students and the youth are becoming increasingly less cautious in the way that they go about having sex.
(1) Jan Hoffman, The New York Times.