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  • Ryan Wittler

The Share of High Schoolers Reporting Feeling Sad or Hopeless Grew During the Pandemic


A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows the number of high schoolers who reported feeling sad or hopeless grew during the pandemic.

Are the kids alright?

The share of high schoolers who reported persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness rose to 44% in 2021, up from 37% in 2019 (i.e., pre-pandemic) and much higher than the 26% measured in 2009.

  • Lesbian, gay, and bisexual students (76%) were over twice as likely to report mental health struggles than heterosexual students (37%).

The survey of over 7,700 students found 20% reported seriously contemplating suicide in 2021, and 9% reported making an attempt.

  • While similar to the rates found in 2019, it’s a significant leap from 2009, when 14% of students reported seriously contemplating suicide and 6% reported attempting.

The impact:

The CDC found 67% of students reported having a harder time completing schoolwork since the beginning of the pandemic.

  • Lesbian, gay, and bisexual students were, once again, more likely to be impacted, as 75% reported schoolwork difficulty.

What’s behind it?

The CDC says a student’s sense of being cared for, supported, and belonging at school – called “school connectedness” – played a large role in their mental health.

  • Students who felt connected to adults and peers at school were significantly less likely than those who didn’t to report feeling sad or hopeless (35% vs. 53%), that they seriously contemplated suicide (14% vs. 26%), or attempted suicde (6% vs. 12%).

  • The CDC also found just 47% of students reported feeling close to people at school during the pandemic.

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