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Teenagers approach educators with mental health concerns more than parents

A survey conducted by CVS Health Morning Consult found that parents and educators play critical and complementary roles in supporting the mental health of adolescents.

A recent CVS Health Morning Consult survey of American parents and educators of adolescents between the ages of 13 to 17 years old, found that both groups play a critical role in adolescents' lives. Particularly, as a go-to resource for conversations around mental health and support for getting care.

Key findings from the survey include:

  • Educators report feeling concerned about adolescents' mental health (76%) significantly more than parents (43%);
  • When asked if a child has ever approached them about a mental or emotional concern, more educators (78%) said yes, compared to parents (58%);
  • However, almost half of parents (49%) say they initiate conversations about mental health with their children, compared to a quarter of educators (22%); and
  • Fortunately, almost all parents (94%) and educators (94%) are confident they would be able to find appropriate support if they were concerned the adolescent was experiencing a mental or emotional health issue.

"Young people continue to face a mental health crisis, but they are not facing it alone. Most are turning to the adults in their lives for help both at home and at school," said CVS Health president and CEO Karen Lynch. "To increase our attention on adolescents' mental health, we have launched new programs to reach them and their families directly, and resources to help parents and caregivers better understand mental distress and available support. Mental health can, and should, become a part of everyday conversation in the classroom, during lunch hour and at the dinner table."

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When parents and educators are concerned that a child is experiencing a mental or emotional health issue, the CVS Health/Morning Consult survey also found that both would, overwhelmingly, speak directly to the child, reach out to one another or seek help from a mental health professional.

The survey revealed prevalent and emerging challenges that adolescents face today regarding their mental health:

  • Educators cited family dynamics and relationships (94%), self-esteem (91%), bullying/social dynamics (85%) and social media usage (83%) as the top negative impacts on children's mental health;
  • Parents most often cited academic pressure (52%), self-esteem (51%), pandemic-related stress (48%) and bullying/social dynamics (43%) as having negative impacts on their children's mental health;
  • Most educators (72%) cited issues stemming from gender, race and sexuality as a factor negatively impacting adolescent mental health, compared to just 25% of parents; and
  • Educators (63%) and parents (54%) agree that more affordable mental health care is the most beneficial resource for adolescent mental health.

"The mental health of America's youth continues to suffer, and our survey reveals the opportunity to create an ecosystem around our children to ensure they get the mental health resources they need," said Cara McNulty, president, Behavioral Health and Mental Well-being at CVS Health. "Parents and educators create a critical, complementary team that supports adolescents through the impacts of academic and family pressures, self-esteem concerns, COVID-19 and more. By helping adolescents, we can prevent mental health issues and the risk of suicide from arising or becoming worse and set healthy well-being habits in this generation for years to come."

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In recognition of Suicide Prevention Month in September, CVS Health said that it continues to prioritize intervention, resources and support to manage suicidal thoughts and prevent suicide attempts.

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