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Anxiety and depression soar in Minnesota youth

A new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows that in Minnesota, children disclosed a long-term mental health problem even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto

MINNEAPOLIS — A new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation found that the mental health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are still lingering among the nation's youth.

The data between 2016 and 2020, shows a 26% increase nationally in anxiety and depression leading up to the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation's Data Book says the national average of 11.8% (7.3 million) of children were "likely to encounter anxiety or depression during the first year of the COVID-19 crisis."

The rise in mental health problems among America's youth led to U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek H. Murthy calling it a "mental health pandemic," the Children's Defense Fund Minnesota said in a statement.

Murthy visited KARE 11 Sunrise Aug. 5 to highlight the current mental health struggles of youth in America.

According to a public health report from the U.S. surgeon general, Murthy and his collogues are working to "Create environments free of stigma that allow children, adolescents, young adults, and their families to talk about their mental health and well-being and seek help without feeling ashamed or fearing discrimination."

Surgeon General Murthy's visit comes at a time when 23.1% of ninth graders in Minnesota reported a long-term mental health, behavioral or emotional problem in 2019, which grew from 12.5% in 2013, the Data Book says.

The report states that overall, anxiety and depression in 3- to 17-year-olds among Minnesota children increased 14.8% leading up to the pandemic between 2016 and 2020.

“While some children are coming out of COVID unscathed, too many in our state still must overcome lack of basics like food or shelter, live under the threat of violence and contend with racism, all contributing to troubling outcomes including a mental health crisis,” said Alisha Porter, Interim State Director of Children’s Defense Fund Minnesota.

Around the rest of the Midwest, the Annie E. Casey Foundation's Data Book reports North Dakota had a decrease in the number of children affected by anxiety and depression. Cases increased nearly 103% in South Dakota, 16.7% in Iowa and about one-fourth of Wisconsinite children were likely to encounter anxiety or depression.

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