Recently unpublished survey results showed teens in Indiana had increased rates of depression and anxiety, according to the state’s top health official.
Indiana Health Commissioner Dr. Christina Books discusses findings from the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey at the 2022 Indiana Rural Health Association conference on June 14.
“In 2021, nearly 50 percent of students said they felt sad or hopeless nearly every day for two weeks in the past year,” Box said. And 11 percent of them said they had attempted suicide at least once, or more than once in the previous year.
The anonymous survey, conducted in both public and private schools across the country, asks teens about sexuality, drug use, physical activity, diet, and more.
In an extensive speech, Boxes also covered issues such as the opioid epidemic, maternal and infant mortality, and children’s behavioral health.
In 2022, the American Psychological Association published a report that described children’s mental health as a “crisis.” The CDC found that from March to October 2020, US hospitals saw a rise in the proportion of pediatric mental health emergency visits: 24 percent for children ages 5 to 11, and 31 percent for children ages 5 to 11. 12 and 17 years old.
One bright spot in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new youth survey, Box said, was the “tremendous” drop in the number of teens smoking cigarettes. However, vaping is still high.
“We still have nearly 20 percent of our seniors say they’ve been smoking e-cigarettes,” Box said. “20 percent of the future population at this age will likely be addicted to nicotine.”
For the first time since 2015, Indiana’s Youth Behavior Survey data can be weighted and compared with other states. Boxes said the health department called on drop-out schools to encourage participation. In the past, not enough schools participated in the optional survey to provide a useful set of data.
During her speech, Box also called on state leaders to take serious action to combat drug abuse.
“My belief when it comes to substance use disorder is that we will have to invest more in prevention, treatment of ACES, and treatment of that trauma that is in people’s lives,” Box said. “And the mental health issues that make them access the material to try and treat this problem.”
ACES are adverse childhood experiences, which include abuse, neglect, and other traumatic events that research has found to put people at greater risk of addiction and other health issues.
The majority of drug overdose deaths in Indiana occur from the use of fentanyl – a highly potent synthetic opioid.