Outcome: Children and youth have good mental health and are emotionally resilient

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Indicator

% of children and youth who report to be sad, unhappy, depressed, anxious or stressed

 

Significance of the indicator: Depressed youth are more likely to engage in risk-taking behaviors, including drug use and risky sexual activity, attempt suicide, run away from home, and less likely to succeed in school. 

 

How we are doing on this indicator:  The only local data for this indicator is from the annual Austin Independent School District (AISD) Student Substance and Safety Survey:  “How good is your ability to cope with stress and negative emotions?” In 2010, 15% of middle school and high school students in AISD reported that their ability to cope with stress or negative emotions was poor or very poor.

 

what the data tell us

 

 

 

 

Definition: % of students reporting that their ability to cope with stress or negative emotions is poor or very poor

Data Source: Austin Independent School District, Student Substance Use and Safety Surveys, 2009-2010

Data Considerations: A high percentage of students responding to the survey report that they “don’t know” how good their ability is to cope with stress and negative emotions. The data reported in this survey is not directly comparable to data reported for other demographic regions.

The Story Behind the indicator

 

There is no systematic data collection in the schools or community to adequately assess this indicator.  As a result, it is difficult to determine exactly how great the need for intervention is in our community.  Statewide data in the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System indicates that the percentage of children who are sad, unhappy, or depressed is likely higher than our limited local data indicates.  For example, Communities in Schools of Central Texas, a large youth serving organization based in local schools along with the Shoal Creek Hospital for children and adolescents reported a significant rise in the number of students of all ages requiring intervention for suicidal ideation or attempts in 2010.  More consistent screening is needed to identify the children or teens with significant depression and anxiety in our community.  This would allow mental health professionals to better connect youth with mental health needs to services.  Even if a child has a mental health disorder, those from low-income families have severely limited access to care.  To read more about the story of depressed, sad or unhappy children and youth in our community, click here.

 

Some local efforts to improve this indicator

 

  • Mental Health America of Texas offers an online training program for high school educators that teaches them to recognize the common indicators of psychological distress and how to approach an at-risk student for referalls to the appropriate school support services.
  • The Child and Youth Mental Health Planning Partnership (CYMHPP) is assessing the viability of evidence-based mental health screening and assessment tools that could be administered to teens for early signs of depression or hopelessness and refer them quickly to the appropriate resource for help. 
  • St. David’s Foundationhas funded a Shared Psychiatric Services project, between LifeWorks (the administrator of the project), SafePlace and Communities In Schools, to provide greater access to timely psychiatric services for their child and adolescent clients who are suffering from the debilitating effects of untreated mental health disorders. 

 

 

A Closer look at the story behind the indicators

 

 

Definition: % of high school students who felt sad or hopeless, Texas and national data

Data Source: National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, CDC, 2005-2009

Data Considerations: The Youth Risk Behavior Survey is administered to high school students every 2 years in major metropolitan areas across the United States. This survey reports the percentage of students who “felt so sad or hopeless almost everyday for two weeks or more in a row that they stopped doing some usual activities during the past 12 months.”  

 

Above: Texas has remained slightly higher than the national average for the percentage of high school students who felt sad or hopeless from 2005 to 2009.


Definition: % of high school students who felt sad or hopeless, by sex, Texas

Data Source: National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, CDC, 2005-2009

Data Considerations: The Youth Risk Behavior Survey is administered to high school students every 2 years in major metropolitan areas across the United States. This survey reports the percentage of students who “felt so sad or hopeless almost everyday for two weeks or more in a row that they stopped doing some usual activities during the past 12 months.”  

 

Above: According to the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, percentage of students who felt sad or hopeless was higher for females than males.

 

  • The Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council finds that 14 to 20 percent of youth experience mental, emotional, or behavioral disorders at any given time. The first symptoms of mental disorders occur 2 to 4 years before the onset of a full-blown disorder. This is an important window for screening and prevention services. 

 

  • Central Texas is home to an estimated 110,000 youth 12 to 19 years old. As many as 11,000 of these middle and high school students and college freshmen are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender youth, and many thousands more are uncertain of and/or questioning their gender identity.  Among these are many youth whose families are unsupportive of their gender identity or uncertainty, some of whom are literally kicked out of their homes, while others must endure daily physical, verbal or emotional abuse from their parents, siblings and others in their households because of who they are.  According to considerable recent research, rates of homeless, suicide, mental illness, substance use and abuse, familial estrangement, criminal victimization and other adverse health and social outcomes are significantly elevated in LGBTQ youth.  Conditions are similarly harsh for these youth in the public and private schools of Central Texas (and statewide).†

 

  • Communities In Schools of Central Texas staff, in 57 schools, reports a significant rise in the number of students requiring intervention for suicidal ideation or attempts in 2010 across all levels – elementary, middle and high schools. 

 

  • Access to timely mental health and psychiatric care for youth with mental health disorders from low income families is severely limited, if they are not exhibiting signs of imminent danger to themselves or others, or psychosis.

 

  • Sept. 2010, Mental Health America of Texas launched an online interactive gatekeeper training program for Texas high school educators called: “At Risk for HS educators”.  This is designed to prepare high school teachers and staff to 1) recognize the common indicators of psychological distress and 2) approach an at-risk student for referral to the appropriate school support service.  This is a new training initiative in AISD.  Children and Youth Mental Health Planning Partnership recommends that all campus-based school district staff be required to complete this “gatekeeper” training. 

 

  • The Children and Youth Mental Health Planning Partnership is working with the Austin ISD Department of Learning Support Services to better track the numbers of students who are seen by the school counselor for feelings of depression and hopelessness.

 

2006-2008 American Community Survey Three-Year Estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau, the Austin-Round Rock MSA, which comprises the heart of Out Youth’s direct service population


The following individuals/organizations contributed to the development of this indicator.

 

 

 
Workforce Solutions - Capital Area United Way Capital Area (UWCA) Community Action Network