October 4, 2022
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State committee holds hearing on youth mental health

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Members of the Illinois State Senate’s Behavioral and Mental Health Committee gathered Thursday morning in Chicago to hear a number of reports from experts about the mental health and wellbeing challenges facing local young people. 

Pixabay stock image Credit: Pixabay stock image

Over the last several years, schools and mental health clinics have documented how the COVID-19 pandemic, gun violence, the widespread use of social media among children and more have contributed to higher rates of depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation among young people nationwide.

The issues also have impacted Evanston’s youth, and administrators at Evanston Township High School have spoken at board meetings in recent months about the need for expanded student support services and the importance of simply talking about mental health regularly.

Thirty-three percent of all ETHS students said that stress impacted their daily lives for at least 11 days of the past month, while 30% said they felt sad or hopeless most days for at least two weeks, according to student survey responses in the 2020-2021 school year.

ETHS also saw a 104% increase in the number of suicide risk assessments from the fall quarter of 2019 to the fall quarter of 2021, according to data presented to the board in March by Associate Principal for Student Services Taya Kinzie and Principal Marcus Campbell.

Based on data collected by the student services staff, 106 students were hospitalized for psychiatric concerns in the 2020-21 year, down from 116 during the prior year. But 26 students experienced multiple hospitalizations, compared with just 12 who did the year before. 

“You can’t have physical health without having mental health, and this is a point that we need to drive home for everybody,” said State Sen. Laura Fine, who represents Evanston and other northern suburbs of Chicago. “It’s okay to talk about your mental health issue, and it should be no different than getting a physical health issue treated.”

In Illinois, there are a lack of beds at inpatient psychiatric facilities for children, Dr. John Walkup of Lurie Children’s Hospital said recently.  Credit: Pixabay stock image

Yet in Illinois, one of the most dire problems confronting psychiatric care is a lack of beds at inpatient facilities where children can go to get the services and support they need, Dr. John Walkup of Lurie Children’s Hospital said at Thursday’s hearing. 



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