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National Council for Mental Wellbeing Poll Finds Youth Mental Health Worsened Dramatically Because of COVID-19 Pandemic

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 8, 2021

Contact
Sophia Majlessi
SophiaM@TheNationalCouncil.org
202-621-1631

73% of parents agree COVID-19 has impacted the mental wellbeing of their K-12 children

WASHINGTON, D.C. (September 8, 2021) – A majority of parents say their children’s mental wellbeing worsened during the past year and a half because of remote learning and social isolation due to COVID-19, according to a new poll from the National Council for Mental Wellbeing. Parents also expressed anxiety about their children returning to schools for the 2021-2022 school year.

The poll, conducted by Morning Consult and released today by the National Council, highlights the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on young people and the increasing need for mental health and substance use information, resources and support for families and schools. The data arrives at a time of rising concerns across the country about young people returning to in-person learning in schools this fall.

“The mark of the COVID-19 pandemic has gone beyond physical health. It has negatively affected children and adolescents during a crucial time for social and emotional development,” National Council President and CEO Chuck Ingoglia said. “We must provide parents, teachers and community leaders with access to key mental health and substance use information and resources to improve wellbeing among young people as we navigate the new school year and beyond.”

Key findings from the National Council survey, encompassing feedback from parents of children in kindergarten through 12th grade, include:

  • Parents agree COVID-19 has affected the mental wellbeing of their K-12 children. A majority of parents say there has been a change in their children’s mental wellbeing during the past year and a half due to remote learning (62%) and social isolation stemming from COVID-19 restrictions (59%). The impact on children varies based on ethnicity, community type, region and the age of the child.
  • Parents of children in kindergarten and middle school are more likely to say their child is experiencing re-entry anxiety for the new school year. A third of all parents (36%) say their child is experiencing anxiety around returning for the new school year. Parents with a child in kindergarten (41%) and middle school (43%) are more likely than other parents to say their child is experiencing re-entry anxiety.
  • There is support from parents for school districts to increase mental health support services due to the impact of COVID-19. Three quarters (73%) of parents say school districts should increase mental health support for children because of the effects of social isolation from COVID-19.

During the National Council’s next “Wellbeing Wednesday” virtual learning event on Wednesday, September 22, from 2-3 p.m. ET, a panel of experts – including Ingoglia, Maya Enista Smith, executive director of Born This Way Foundation, and Dr. Christopher Jones, acting director of the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control — will discuss detailed results of the National Council survey, the intersection of teen mental health and substance use challenges, and available solutions for parents and caregivers, school administrators and health care leaders. Register for the virtual event and tune in for the vital and timely conversation on September 22.

“Young people have shown their ability to lead during challenging times with resilience, bravery and kindness,” said Born This Way Foundation’s Smith. “It is both our opportunity and our responsibility to validate their emotions, foster healthy conversations and proactively provide the mental health resources and skills to help them – and all of us – navigate our lives.”

The National Council partnered with Born This Way Foundation to bring teen Mental Health First Aid (tMHFA) to the United States in 2019. This evidence-based training teaches teens in grades 10-12, or ages 15-18, how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental health and substance use challenges among friends and peers and how to get the help of a trusted adult quickly. tMHFA is a vital resource available for young people during this time of uncertainty.

Join leading minds in health care to further discuss growing concerns around youth mental health and substance use challenges and proven strategies for support on September 22. Register now.

 

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Morning Consult conducted the polling August 6-9, 2021, among a sample of 466 parents of kindergarten-12th grade children. The interviews were conducted online, and the data were weighted to approximate a target sample of parents of kindergarten-12th grade children based on gender, educational attainment, age, race, and region. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of plus or minus five percentage points.

Founded in 1969, the National Council for Mental Wellbeing is a membership organization that drives policy and social change on behalf of nearly 3,500 mental health and substance use treatment organizations and the more than 10 million children, adults and families they serve. We advocate for policies to ensure equitable access to high-quality services. We build the capacity of mental health and substance use treatment organizations. And we promote greater understanding of mental wellbeing as a core component of comprehensive health and health care. Through our Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) program, we have trained more than 2.5 million people in the U.S. to identify, understand and respond to signs and symptoms of mental health and substance use challenges.