ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report shows more than a third of U.S. high schoolers are struggling with mental health.

Findings also points to many problems originating at home.  

Phyllis Jackson, nurse with Common Ground Health, discussed how this trend could be affecting Rochester.

Jackson says it’s no secret many are struggling in these times; isolation, missing out on activity, and trauma from the coronavirus itself.

But young people, she says, are hit especially hard.

“This is not really a new problem, I think that it’s just that more light has been shed on it,” Jackson said.

The CDC study shows the following statistics among high schoolers surveyed in the US:

  • More than half report emotional abuse in the home
  • 11% report physical abuse in the home
  • More than a quarter, report a parent lost their job.
  • Over a third report they experienced racism

Jackson says this affects relationships and behavior in the classroom, in the form of acting out, or staying silent.

Often times, we don’t know how to reach them, and they may not know how to get help.

“Particularly in Black and Brown communities, in our indigenous Native American communities, the topic of mental health has been for a long time one that was kind of closeted,” she said.

The CDC report also outlines a term called school connectedness, saying those who experience a sense of belonging and support are less likely to report stress and mental health concerns. The report support that many teens in LGBTQ groups lack this element.

Part of Jackson’s job is educating the community on how they can help. She says it takes a village to raise a child, and everyone can play a role. It starts with being present.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a teacher, parent, friend at church or a neighbor.

“One of my favorite things kids say and I use it all the time is ya know, is ‘I feel you,’ it doesn’t say ‘I understand where you are’, it doesn’t say ‘I can fix it,'” Jackson said. “It means that I’m here, I’m in this space, I am present with you.”

For additional professional support, refer to any of the following local and regional resources:

Common Ground Health, Trillium Health, Bivona Child Advocacy and 211.