Anxiety, depression on the rise in Minnesota youth

(ABC 6 News) – The Annie E. Casey Foundation released its annual KIDS COUNT Data Book, on Monday.

For the first time included, there is data in all 50 states on mental health among youth ages 3 to 17.

With data through 2020, the report shows a 26% increase nationally in anxiety and depression through the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, creating what the U.S. surgeon general has called a “mental health pandemic.”

Kids in Minnesota fared better than their peers nationwide, but are still suffering mental health challenges. Minnesota ranked third in child well-being according to the Data Book.

“Minnesota’s high rank does not reflect the many ways the pandemic has exacerbated already existing opportunity gaps,” said Alisha Porter, Interim State Director of Children’s Defense Fund Minnesota, Minnesota’s member of the KIDS COUNT network. “While some children are coming out of COVID unscathed, too many in our state still must overcome lack of basics like food or shelter, live under the threat of violence and contend with racism, all contributing to troubling outcomes including a mental health crisis.”

Children in Minnesota are still in the midst of a mental health crisis, struggling with anxiety and depression at unprecedented levels. This year’s report shows increasing percentages of ninth graders in the state reporting a long-term mental health, behavioral or emotional problem, growing from 12.5% in 2013 to 23.1% in 2019.

Mental health outcomes are even worse for LGBTQ+ children and children of color in Minnesota: over 30% of LGBTQ 11th graders responding to the 2019 Minnesota Student Survey reported an attempted suicide at some point in their life, compared to 7% of their heterosexual counterparts. The same survey found that 23% of American Indian 11th graders reported an attempted suicide at some point in their life, compared to 9% of white students.

This year’s Data Book ranks the states from 1 to 50 using 16 key indicators of child well-being and connects these traditional indicators to the state of a young person’s mental and emotional stability.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation and Children’s Defense Fund Minnesota calls for lawmakers to respond to the surgeon general’s warning by developing programs and policies to ease mental health burdens on children and their families, including meeting kids’ basic needs and ensuring they have access to mental health care.

Learn more about KIDS COUNT Data Book HERE.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation is devoted to developing a brighter future for millions of children and young people with respect to their educational, economic, social and health outcomes.