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Mental Health – A Priority, and Struggle, for Young People

The Born This Way Foundation was founded by Lady Gaga in 2012 to assist young people in achieving mental and emotional well-being. However, a study commissioned by the foundation found that although young people value their mental health, many feel they do not have access to the resources that can increase their ability to deal with stress, anxiety, and other mental health issues.

The study, “Kind Communities – A Bridge to Youth Mental Wellness,” analyzed the results of a survey administered to 3,015 young people between the ages of 15 and 24, as well as 1,004 parents. The survey included questions about how students view their own mental health, how peers and parents help and hinder mental health efforts, and what schools can do to create healthier atmospheres for stressed young adults.

Some of the findings are as follows:

  • 57% of young people said mental health is a very important priority, yet 36% of high school students report their schools do not cover mental health in any class at school
  • 66% of parents say their child will likely talk to them if they felt bad about their body, but only 25% of young people say they would talk to their parents if they did feel bad about their bodies
  • 49% of young people report having three people or fewer they could go to with a difficult problem, and 5% of these young people say they have no one they could talk to

The survey defined a “kind” high school as having teachers who greet students when they come to school, offering classes about or that discuss mental health, and having classmates who make an effort to include people who are different. The survey found that while 11% of high school students have all of these resources, 20% said they have none of these resources.

So what can schools do better?

Young people who describe their environments as kind are more likely to be mentally healthy. Doing something as small as greeting students as they arrive at school can make a difference!

Youth rely on a small set of close friends for support. And while young people also talk with their parents about important issues, parents don’t necessarily understand what’s going on with their child emotionally or what their child is willing to discuss.

Young people with access to resources are more mentally healthy, but schools need to do a better job providing those resources. Many schools are unable to staff much-needed grief counselors, social workers, and school psychologists. Schools looking to provide these services to their students can turn to online behavioral and mental health services to expand necessary capacity.

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