Youth Mental Health: Be Proactive with School Surveys

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Depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses are on the rise among teens, preteens and young adults. In fact, it is estimated that “five to eight times as many high school and college students meet the criteria for diagnosis of major depression and/or anxiety disorder as was true half a century or more ago.”[1] And that’s not simply a sign of doctors over-medicating “moody” teens – this substantial increase in youth mental health issues holds true even when considering the same criteria for diagnosis.

In addition, according to the National Center for Children in Poverty, approximately 20 percent of teens have a mental health disorder.[2] That means that one in every five students at your school may be experiencing poor mental health symptoms, like those of depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder or other illnesses.

But what’s most alarming for teachers and parents alike is what these mental disorders can lead to if not properly treated – like violence inflicted upon oneself or others. Just recently, suicide has become the second-leading cause of death in teens and young adults, aged 15-24[3], previously ranking third behind homicide and accidental causes. Plus, school shootings appear to be on the rise, with the average number of yearly U.S. mass shootings increasing from 6 to 16 since the year 2000, most of which occurred at schools.[4]

While the jury is still out on whether or not there is tangible evidence that mental illness may lead to gun violence in schools, we must recognize the fact that people with serious mental illness are three to four times more likely to be violent than those who aren’t.[5] And what we do know for certain is that educators and administrators want to do everything in their power to improve the mental health of students and increase the safety of their schools.

Many may find it difficult to gauge a student or child’s mental state, thanks in large part to the social stigma associated with mental illness and the unlikelihood that a student will reach out for help on his/her own. However, conducting school surveys is an efficient way for educators and administrators to determine if there is a youth mental health problem at their institution, without directly imposing on students’ privacy.

Several of our surveys help thoroughly inspect youth mental health by asking students about many different – and often difficult topics – such as alcohol and drug abuse, absenteeism, bullying, family life, discipline problems, social and emotional skills, perceived school climate and more. By examining the resulting survey statistics, educators and administrators can get a better understanding of the state of their students’ mental health and can become more proactive at addressing any obvious causes or addressing any trends in the future.

[1] Gray, Peter. “The Decline of Play and Rise in Children’s Mental Disorders.” January 26, 2010. Retrieved from on December 15, 2015.

[2] Schwarz, Susan Wile. “Adolescent Mental Health in the United States.” June 2009. Retrieved from on December 15, 2015.

[3] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Suicide Trends Among Persons Aged 10–24 Years — United States, 1994–2012.” March 6, 2015. Retrieved from on December 15, 2015.

[4] Federal Bureau of Investigation. “FBI Releases Study on Active Shooter Incidents.” September 24, 2014. Retrieved from on December 15, 2015.

[5] Beckett, Lois. “Myth vs. Fact: Violence and Mental Health.” June 10, 2014. Retrieved from on December 15, 2015.

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