September is National Suicide Prevention month, a month dedicated to showing up and shedding light on suicide. A new report from the Center for Disease Control found that nearly 22percent of all adults got a mental health treatment in 2021, a 19percent increase from 2019. Yet, among young adults, suicide continues to be the second leading cause of death among teens and young adults. Additionally, the number of teen girls hospitalized for suicide had increase 50percent nationwide since 2019. According to the JED Foundation, 25.5 percent of young adults reported having seriously considered suicide in a single month, on top of a 31 percent increase in mental health-related ER visits of young people between the ages of 12-17.
Some might chalk up this rise up to the COVID-19 pandemic that we are still grappling with the impacts of. However, the number of adolescents saying they felt persistently sad or hopeless was up by 40percent since 2009, prior to the pandemic. An additional report by the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry and Children’s Hospital Association found that between 2010 and 2020, suicide was the second leading cause of death for every racial demographic. This coincides with drug overdose deaths continuing at record high levels. As Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, told CNN, “The Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated numerous social stressors that we know can increase the risk of both substance use and mental illness, alongside substantial changes to the illicit drug supply.” Yet, Dr. Volkow also suggests that the new CDC report might not be all too bad, given that it means more individuals are seeking mental health support than they were before.
This growing concern around youth mental health coinciding with the residual impacts, means that higher education institutions are facing unique challenges to student support. Institutions can best serve their students during this time with Symplicity Advocate, to ensure wraparound student support. University students deserve a campus dedicated to their wellbeing and a simple, user-friendly way to report any issue they, or others, fear may threaten their ability to thrive. Advocate’s capabilities lessen some of the stress students might already be facing and enable them to easily voice and manage their concerns through cross-campus collaboration among faculty and staff.
This includes seeing which staff member is working with students, setting up virtual counseling sessions, connecting them to adults they can talk to, managing workflows to ensure all campus partners are informed, and providing students with proactive tools to help them cope through this time and into 2023. During a time when the world is slowly returning to a “new normal,” students will need to have the support to effectively manage all that they’ve had to endure during this challenging time. Providing student wellbeing must be a top priority for all higher education institutions to ensure student success during and after the pandemic.