BOONE COUNTY, Ind. — New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is shining more light on the mental health of children during the pandemic. The results from the CDC's newly-released study paint a better picture of the challenges from not having that critical school connection.
The CDC surveyed high school students in both private and public schools in all 50 states.
Overall, more than a third experienced poor mental health. More than half experienced emotional abuse by a parent or other adult at home. That includes swearing, insulting or putting down a student. 11% were abused physically by a parent or other adult in the home. This included some form of hitting, beating or kicking.
More than a quarter of these kids reported their parent lost a job.
Pascal Fettig, who runs Mental Health America in Boone County specializing in domestic abuse, is not surprised by the data.
"We've got a bunch of kids here who are not able to control their aggressions that they've built up over the time they were at home," Fettig explained. "Same goes with adults. Unfortunately, in a large area, a larger environment like a school, there's more people to let it out to. In a smaller environment in the home, right or wrong – and I don't think that parents ever thought they would get to that point – but their anger builds up. They get all amped up, and they let it out on the first people they see."
Lesbian, gay and bisexual students and female students reported greater levels of poor mental health, emotional abuse by a parent or caregiver and having attempted suicide.
Even before the pandemic, mental health was getting worse among high school students. Fettig believes all the screen time plays a huge role.
The new data echoes a cry for help. The CDC said the right support can reverse these trends in the future.
Fettig, whose team has seen double the clients during the pandemic than before, believes human interaction goes a long way.
"Don't let your loved ones hurt. It's a cliché quote, but don't. Talk. Talk to them. Stay persistent. Stay focused and just reach out and talk. Talk, talk, talk. If you turn your head any way, you're going to see somebody that could use your help," said Fettig.
Fettig also advises to be perceptive, ask questions and look at kids' behaviors. Is your child hanging out with the right people? Also, don't be afraid to have a conversation, even if you call an expert who can help.
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