Chicago — America’s middle and high school students report that depression, stress and anxiety is the most common barrier to learning.
At least 222,837 students surveyed across 20 states ranked obstacles to learning with distractions at home, health, personal relationships and internet access among the top five challenges. But feeling depressed, stressful and anxious came in as number one on the list for both middle and high schoolers, according to a new report YouthTruth.
The report also reveals mental health disparities, with white students at least 7% more likely to access a school counselor or therapist than their Black, Latino and Asian peers. LGBTQ youth experience suicidal ideation more than double the rate of their peers.
“The increase in the mental health load that students experienced during the pandemic has not gone away, is still very present, even increased and it’s not going away anytime soon,” said Jen Wilka, executive director of YouthTruth. “For now, we need to adjust to that as the new normal and and think about how we support students.”
Additionally, less than half of the students surveyed are satisfied with their school’s mental health resource. Many of the students who offered write-in responses to the survey called on schools to do better to help them.
“That refrain, ‘talk to us first’ is just exploding in the qualitative data right now,” Wilka said, adding that the message suggests schools can do more to bring students into the process of planning or adjusting offerings.