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Mental Health found to be worsening among US high school students

42% of students reported feeling persistently sad or hopeless in the past year. Nearly 60% of female students and 70% of those identified as LGBTQIA+ reported sadness and hopelessness. 

22% of students have reported having seriously considered attempting suicide during the past year. 

10% of students attempted suicide at least once in the past year. 

The Youth Risk Behavior and Survey Data Summary and Trends Report 2011-2021

Mental health includes mental, emotional, and behavioral well-being.

According to the CDC, anxiety problems, behavior problems, ADHD and depression are the most commonly diagnosed mental disorders in children. Many family, community, and healthcare factors are related to children’s mental health.

Community awareness about mental illness is important to reduce stigma.

Our goal is to increase mental health wellness by increasing the capacity of First Aiders to identify and appropriately respond to youth (ages 12-18) who may be experiencing mental health challenges and/or emotional disturbances. 

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Anxiety Disorders

Feeling anxiety at time can be normal, however, when feelings of intense fear and distress become overwhelming and prevent us from doing everyday activities, an anxiety disorder may be the cause. For a person with an anxiety disorder, the anxiety does not go away and can get worse over time. The symptoms can interfere with daily activities such as job performance, schoolwork, and relationships.

Emotional symptoms:

- Feelings of apprehension or dread

- Feeling tense or jumpy

- Restlessness or irritability

- Anticipating the worst and being watchful for signs of danger

Physical symptoms:

- Pounding or racing heart and shortness of breath

- Sweating, tremors and twitches

- Headaches, fatigue and insomnia

- Upset stomach, frequent urination or diarrhea


Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

ADHD is a condition in which characterized by inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. ADHD is most commonly diagnosed in young people. An estimated 8.8% of children aged 4-17 have ADHD. While ADHD is usually diagnosed in childhood, it does not only affect children.

Signs of inattention include:

- Becoming easily distracted, and jumping from activity to activity or bored with a task quickly.

- Difficulty focusing attention or completing a single task or activity 

- Trouble completing or turning in homework assignments.

- Not listening or paying attention when spoken to.

- Daydreaming or wandering with lack of motivation.

Signs of hyperactivity include:

- Fidgeting and squirming, having trouble sitting still.

- Non-stop talking.

- Touching or playing with everything.

- Difficulty doing quiet tasks or activities.

Signs of impulsivity include:

- Impatience, acting without regard for consequences, blurting things out. 

- Difficulty taking turns, waiting or sharing and interrupting others.


ADHD is managed and treated in several ways:

Medications, including stimulants, nonstimulants and antidepressants
Behavioral therapy
Self-management, education programs and assistance through schools or work or alternative treatment approaches


Depressive disorder, frequently referred to simply as depression, is more than just feeling sad or going through a rough patch. It’s a serious mental health condition that requires understanding and medical care. Left untreated, depression can be devastating for those who have it and their families. Fortunately, with early detection, diagnosis and a treatment plan consisting of medication, psychotherapy and healthy lifestyle choices, many people can and do get better. Depression can present different symptoms, depending on the person. But for most people, depressive disorder changes how they function day-to-day, and typically for more than two weeks.

Common symptoms include:

- Changes in sleep

- Changes in appetite

- Lack of concentration

- Loss of energy

- Lack of interest in activities

- Hopelessness or guilty thoughts

- Changes in movement (less activity or agitation)

- Physical aches and pains

- Suicidal thoughts

Although depressive disorder can be a devastating illness, it often responds to treatment. The key is to get a specific evaluation and treatment plan. Safety planning is important for individuals who have suicidal thoughts. After an assessment rules out medical and other possible causes, a patient-centered treatment plans can include any or a combination of the following:

- Psychotherapy, medications, exercise, various forms of therapy. 

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Traumatic events—such as an accident, assault, military combat or natural disaster—can have lasting effects on a person’s mental health. While many people will have short term responses to life-threatening events, some will develop longer term symptoms that can lead to a diagnosis of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD symptoms often co-exist with other conditions such as substance use disorders, depression and anxiety. A comprehensive medical evaluation resulting in an individualized treatment plan is optimal.

A diagnosis of PTSD requires a discussion with a trained professional.

Symptoms of PTSD generally fall into these broad categories:

- Re-experiencing type symptoms.

- Avoidance

- Cognitive and mood symptoms

- Arousal symptoms, such as hypervigilance

Though PTSD cannot be cured, it can be treated and managed in several ways. Psychotherapy, such as cognitive processing therapy or group therapy, Medications, Self-management strategies, such as self-soothing and mindfulness, are helpful to ground a person and bring her back to reality after a flashback. Service animals, especially dogs, can help soothe some of the symptoms of PTSD.


Psychosis is characterized as disruptions to a person’s thoughts and perceptions that make it difficult for them to recognize what is real and what isn’t. These disruptions are often experienced as seeing, hearing and believing things that aren’t real or having strange, persistent thoughts, behaviors and emotions. While everyone’s experience is different, most people say psychosis is frightening and confusing.


Common symptoms include: 

Hallucinations are seeing, hearing or feeling things that

aren’t there, such as the following:

- Hearing voices (auditory hallucinations)
- Strange sensations or unexplainable feelings
- Seeing glimpses of objects or people that are not

   there or distortions

Delusions are strong beliefs that are not consistent with the person’s

culture, are unlikely to be true and may seem irrational to others, such as the following:

- Believing external forces are controlling thoughts, feelings and behaviors
- Believing that trivial remarks, events or objects have personal meaning or significance
- Thinking you have special powers, are on a special mission or even that you are God.

Research has shown significant success using a treatment approach called Coordinated Specialty Care (CSC). CSC uses a team of health professionals and specialists who work with a person to create a personal treatment plan based on life goals while involving family members as much as possible.


Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness that interferes with a person’s ability to think clearly, manage emotions, make decisions and relate to others. It is a complex, long-term medical illness. The exact prevalence of schizophrenia is difficult to measure, but estimates range from 0.25% to 0.64% of U.S. adults. Although schizophrenia can occur at any age, the average age of onset tends to be in the late teens to the early 20s for men, and the late 20s to early 30s for women. It is uncommon for schizophrenia to be diagnosed in a person younger than 12 or older than 40. It is possible to live well with schizophrenia.

Common symptoms include: 

- Hallucinations. These include a person hearing voices, seeing things, or smelling things others can’t perceive. The hallucination is very real to the person experiencing it, and it may be very confusing for a loved one to witness. 

- Delusions. These are false beliefs that don’t change even when the person who holds them is presented with new ideas or facts. People who have delusions often also have problems concentrating, confused thinking, or the sense that their thoughts are blocked.

- Negative symptoms are ones that diminish a person’s abilities. Negative symptoms often include being emotionally flat or speaking in a dull, disconnected way. 

- Cognitive issues/disorganized thinking. People with the cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia often struggle to remember things, organize their thoughts or complete tasks. 


There is no cure for schizophrenia, but it can be treated and managed in several ways.

The above information about disorders, symptoms, and treatment was gathered from 

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