Friday, February 24, 2023

Austin Healthy Adolescent (AHA) Program


CDC New Report Shows Worsening Mental Health of Teenage Girls and LGBTQ+ Teens

On Monday, February 13, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a troubling report on the mental health of teenage girls in the U.S. Fifty-seven percent of girls surveyed in 2021 for this report stated that they felt feelings of sadness and hopelessness.   

The report compares data collected between 2011 and 2021 and includes information from the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), which is a study on the health behaviors and experiences of high school students in the U.S. Over this time period, mental health has worsened for teenage girls and LGBTQ+ adolescents of any gender, as both categories are more likely to experience violence. 

Nearly one in five girls surveyed reported that they experienced sexual violence in the past year and over one in ten stated that they had been forced to have sex. Fifty-two percent of LGBTQ+ students reported that they experienced poor mental health and 22% stated that they had attempted suicide.  

The CDC report points to “school connectedness” as a protective factor that can promote the health and development of students. School connectedness refers to how much a student feels that adults and peers care about their learning and well-being at their school. School programs in which students can participate can increase their sense of school connectedness and make them less prone to violence and feelings of sadness and hopelessness.  

One such program is the Austin Healthy Adolescent (AHA) Program, which engages, empowers and collaborates with communities across Travis County and Del Valle to support youth in taking ownership of their own health and working to advance the health of their communities.  

If you or someone you know is experiencing sexual violence, SAFE Alliance is a human service agency that serves the survivors of child abuse, sexual assault and exploitation, and domestic violence. Their services include shelter/housing, face-to-face and digital support, prevention and education, and advocacy. Contact SAFE Alliance at 737-888-7233.  

Additionally, if you or someone you know is struggling with feelings of suicide, the 988 Suicide Prevention hotline is a resource to help people experiencing troubling times. Call or text 988 to discuss your feelings with a crisis-trained counselor. The service is free and available 24/7/365.