PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — New data shows a staggering increase in childhood mental health issues leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Oregon’s rates are above average.
The COVID-19 pandemic hit Oregon’s youth hard, with the number of children who experienced anxiety or depression nearly climbing to 40% from 2016 to 2020, according to a new report released on Monday.
Data from the “KIDS COUNT Data Book” released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation showed Oregon children experiencing anxiety and depression climbed to 40% between 2016 and 2020, that nearly 342,000 more children in Oregon experienced anxiety or depression in the first year of the pandemic.
The report’s data shows there was a 26% increase nationally in anxiety and depression in children through the first year of the pandemic.
The study found that one of the biggest issues is the lack of accessibility to emotional and mental health care support. There is a sea of factors that causes this lack of access — from poverty and location to the strain put on the whole health care system by the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was reported that 14.5% of 8th graders in Oregon said they had unmet emotional or mental health care needs during the pandemic. This percentage got worse in certain counties such as Douglas County where the number was up to 27%.
The report’s data shows that these numbers continue to get worse when looking at marginalized groups. Across all of the U.S., it has been reported that 9% of all high schoolers attempted suicide in the years before this most recent study. That number goes up to 12% for Black students and 26% for American Indian or Native Alaskan high schoolers.
For LGBTQ+ students, the statistics show that 23% of students who identify on the LGBTQ+ spectrum attempted suicide compared to just 6% of their heterosexual identifying peers.