Teens Say Depression is Greater Problem Than Bullying, Drugs or Drinking
Jim Liebelt Jim Liebelt's Blog
- 2019 Feb 25
*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on USA Today.
As teen depression in the United States has risen in the past decade, most boys and girls are seeing mental health as a major problem, according to a new survey from Pew Research Center.
In a survey of nearly 1,000 teens ages 13 to 17, 70 percent say anxiety and depression are critical issues among their peers, Pew found.
While there isn't data to compare this trend to past generations, Juliana Menasce Horowitz, Pew's associate director of research, told USA TODAY this finding was still "most striking" given how it compared to other concerns teens said were major problems.
Just 55 percent said bullying was a major problem, 51 percent said drug addiction and 45 percent said drinking alcohol.
Moreover, concern around anxiety and depression rang true across gender, racial and economic divisions within the surveyed group.
Depression among teens has been on the rise in recent years, a 2016 study in the medical journal Pediatricsconcluded. Researchers found that from 2005 to 2014, major depressive episodes increased in children ages 12 to 17 from 8.7 percent to 11.3 percent.
So, what's driving teens' concerns about mental health? While Horowitz noted Pew asked about the issues teens saw among their peers – not their own experiences with depression or anxiety – and didn't tie the concerns around mental health to any one cause, the research center's data does show the pressure to get good grades affects more than others.
Sixty-one percent of teens said they felt a lot of pressure to get good grades whereas only 29 percent said they felt a lot of pressure to look good and 28 percent felt a lot of pressure to fit in socially. Not even 10 percent felt a lot of pressure either to be sexually active, use drugs or drink alcohol.
Additionally, over half of teens say they're planning to go to a four-year college, with girls (68 percent) more likely than boys (51 percent) to say so.