Widening of the Gender Gap: Persistent Sadness Among Teen Girls a Major Concern 

In my last two blogs, I discussed some of the latest research in ASD. Today, I am following up with a look at the mental health challenges during the teenage years. These years can be challenging for anyone, but recent data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shed light on a troubling trend that is impacting teen girls especially hard.  

Research has shown that teen girls faired significantly worse than their male counterparts when it comes to mental health challenges, thoughts of suicide, exposure to violence, and persistent sadness and hopelessness.  

The Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) Data Summery & Trends Report, a publication of the CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health (DASH), highlights data collected among a nationally representative sample of U.S. high school students. The survey considers several issues facing teens: sexual behavior, experience with violence, substance abuse, and mental health and suicidality.  

According the YRBS Data Summary & Trends Report: 2011-2021, 42% of high school students felt so sad or hopeless that they stopped doing usual activities. However, 57% of female respondents were impacted by persistent feelings of sadness as compared to 29% of male respondents.   

Access the full YRBS Data Summary & Trends Report: 2011-2021.  

What is the root cause of this startling trend of increased persistent sadness at a much higher rate among females? There are several factors, including increased isolation brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, bullying in schools, influences of social media and 24/7 news outlets, stress combined with a lack of coping strategies, and untreated mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression, that are helping fuel this national issue.  So, the question is, what are we as educators and providers going to do to support high school students???? Your thoughts? 

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