ROCHESTER, N.Y. – (WROC) – Nationally one in six kids between 6 and 17-years-old are diagnosed with a mental health disorder every year. The Public Health Department is reporting those numbers signal a concerning rise.
Public health commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza says more students are reporting mental health challenges in school districts across Monroe County.
“We have to work together to figure out what is the root cause of what we are seeing by every measure is very concerning,” said Mendoza.
In 2019, 32% of students reported symptoms of depression, which is up from 21% in 2007, and 14% reported they considered suicide in the past year. In 2007, 12% of students said they considered suicide.
“Look at the environment that our kids are in now,” said Melanie Funchess, director of community engagement of the Mental Health Association. “Look at the environment that our country is in now. People are seeing a lot of negative stuff. There is a lot of hate speech and bullying in the atmosphere. Our children feel that.”
A challenge Antonia Wynter is all to familiar with. Her teenaged son has struggled with depression and suicide for years.
“He would run off and I didn’t know where he was and he didn’t want me to know,” said Wynter.
“That was very, very scary. He didn’t feel like he was worth being around the family.”
In the age of social media and cyber bullying, Funchess said one way to fight the problem is to start talking to teens.
“Reassure them that they are safe,” said Funchess. “They are loved. That it’s going to be okay.”
Also Wynter says there is one thing parents should always remember.
“We can’t forget just because they’re teens and they don’t have the bills that we have and the adult problems that we have, their problems are just as important to them,” said Wynter.
If you suspect your teen is struggling with mental health challenges, Funchess suggests talking with them in a comfortable setting. If they don’t talk right away she said just let them know they matter.
Only half of all kids under 17 with mental health challenges get treatment.