Address the mental health crisis by implementing curriculum in schools

Keita Franklin and Dr. Kelly Posner Gerstenhaber

If the “second wave” of COVID-19 spreading across the nation is not cause enough for fear, grief and uncertainty in the hearts and minds of Americans, there is a hidden — equally devastating and potentially just as deadly — third wave that desperately needs to be addressed. It is the mental health crisis ravaging communities, especially young children and adolescents.

Let us start with the alarming data. A recent American Psychology Association study found seven out of every 10 Gen Zers, those 8-to 23 years of age, were most likely to report experiencing common symptoms of depression. Similarly, the CDC released statistics in November showing a 24% increase in children, ages 5-11, and 31% increase of adolescents, 12-17 years old, requiring mental health-related hospitalizations since the onset of the pandemic. And perhaps most alarming of all, the Annual State of Health in America has recently reported pre-teens and teens had the highest rate of suicide ideations as compared to other age groups. These are warning signs we cannot afford to ignore; never before has the psychological well-being of youth been more critically urgent.

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