More high school girls suffer from poor mental health than boys, new data says

Nearly three in five high school girls reported feeling sad or hopeless in 2021, representing a 60% spike over the past decade, and fared worse than boys of the same age across nearly all measures of mental health, U.S. government data showed.

About 57% of the female students reported “persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness”, up from 36% in 2011, according to the data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published on Monday.

For male students, the figure rose to 29% from 21% during the same time period.

There was improvement for adolescents in some areas, such as risky sexual behavior, substance abuse and bullying, but mental health and suicidal thoughts as well as experiences of violence worsened, the data showed.

One in five teenage girls experienced sexual violence over the past year, up 20% since 2017, when the CDC started monitoring this measure.

“High school should be a time for trailblazing, not trauma. These data show our kids need far more support to cope, hope, and thrive,” Debra Houry, CDC’s chief medical officer and deputy director for Program and Science, said in a statement.

Overall, 42% of high school students felt so sad or hopeless almost every day for at least two weeks in a row that they stopped doing their usual activities.

The study found that 22% of teens had considered attempting suicide in the past year, with 30% of those thoughts attributed to female students and 14% to males.

(Reporting by Nandhini Srinivasan in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)