Advocates Push to Center Youth Mental Health as New School Year Begins

Advocates Push to Center Youth Mental Health as New School Year Begins

Advocates Push to Center Youth Mental Health as New School Year Begins

As a new school year kicks off next week—the third since the pandemic began—local advocates and families are calling for New York lawmakers to prioritize mental health resources for youth, pointing to the impact of COVID-19 on a system they say was strained across the state well before the crisis.

At a virtual rally on Sunday, parents, young people and advocates in the city and across the state shared stories about the impact of the pandemic and renewed calls for elected officials to invest more in behavioral health programs and services for children and teens, which experts say have been underfunded for years and are now at a breaking point, with increased demand spurred by the coronavirus crisis.

From 2016 to 2020, the percentage of New York children aged 3-17 who were diagnosed with anxiety and depression increased from 8.9 to 10.9 percent, according to a recent report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. New York was 29th out of the 50 states in the group’s annual ranking this year—which looked at indicators related to the economy, education and health—landing among the states categorized as “worse” for overall youth well-being.

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