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Editor’s Note: Visit TMJ4 News at 4pm to see Taylor Lumpkin’s report on the OCMH Annual Report.
The Wisconsin Department of Children’s and Mental Health (OCMH) has released its 2022 annual report showing an increase in reports of suicide, depression and anxiety in children.
The OCMH released a detailed report on Friday, saying the impact of the pandemic continues to weigh heavily on young people. Back in the classroom, children found themselves faced with new challenges, including how to fill learning gaps, how to behave in the classroom environment, and how to interact with peers.
Some of these challenges are new, so OCMH decided to focus on concerns within schools and how to address new challenges related to children’s mental health.
Through its work, OCMH said it has discovered many lasting effects from the COVID-19 pandemic and how connection can reduce emotional distress, suicidal ideation, and physical violence. But the report notes that this problem of declining mental health among children began long before the pandemic.
Reports of anxiety, depression and suicide are on the rise again, with nearly 34% of Wisconsin students feeling sad and hopeless nearly every day, according to the report. The OCMH said young people’s sense of belonging to school continues to decline, especially among Hispanic students.
Looking at specific numbers, the OCMH found that 52% of Wisconsin youth reported anxiety, 25% of women said they had seriously considered self-harm, and 22% of Wisconsin youth said they had seriously considered self-harm. found that they reported self-harm. The report also says that nearly half of her LGBT youth in Wisconsin have seriously considered suicide.
To make matters worse, the percentage of mental health professionals for young people is much higher than recommended. According to OCMH, the recommended ratio for community-based mental health professionals is 250:1. In Wisconsin, the ratio is 440:1.
For school-based psychologists, the recommended ratio is 500:1. In Wisconsin, it’s 826:1.
But OCMH also noted some of the positive changes surrounding mental health among young people. The number of school-based mental health professionals is growing, and thanks to the federal Pandemic Fund, schools can now consider expanding mental health.
Overall, the OCMH found that children who had good social connections and felt they belonged had better mental health, better academic performance, and less risky behavior. Researchers have found that being part of a social network that extends beyond the family may reduce stress, reduce feelings of loneliness, depression, and anxiety, and improve overall health.
According to the report, feeling connected in school at a young age may reduce the following in adulthood:
- Emotional distress and possible suicidal ideation
- Physical Violence, Victimization, Perpetration
- sexually transmitted disease diagnosis
- Prescription drug abuse and other illegal drug use
You can read the full report from OCMH below.
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