A landmark study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that more than one-third of high school students said they experienced “poor mental health” during the COVID-19 pandemic, while nearly half said they felt “persistently” sad or hopeless over the last two years.
The study, whose finds were released by the CDC on Thursday, was conducted over a six-month period in early 2021, according to officials. It surveyed nearly 8,000 students across the country, and asked them a series of questions about their mental health.
According to the survey, 44% of high school students said they felt “persistently sad or hopeless” during the COVID pandemic. Officials say 37% of students said they experienced poor mental health over the last year.
The survey also found that more than half (55%) of students said they experienced emotional abuse, including being sworn at, insulted or put down, by a parent or adult within their home. Of students surveyed, 11% said they experienced physical abuse during the pandemic, and nearly one-third said that one or both of their parents lost jobs during the COVID outbreaks.
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In a paper summing up the survey’s findings, the CDC wrote that online-only instruction had a “negative effect” on the mental health of teens.
“These data echo a cry for help,” CDC Acting Principal Deputy Director Dr. Debra Houry said. “The COVID pandemic has created traumatic stressors that have the potential to further erode students’ mental wellbeing.”
The CDC called the landmark study the first “nationally representative survey of public and private high school students. The survey was conducted between January and June 2021, and was funded through the CARES Act.