Iowa youth are in dire need of mental health prevention and intervention services. There are not enough providers and where there are services, there is not a systematic way for youth or their families who love them to find these supports. The creation of a statewide youth mental health system is still being talked about, yet still woefully lacking.
The most recent Iowa Youth Survey, published in late 2022, showed an astonishing increase in the percentages of youth from 6th grade through high school reporting they experienced depression in the past 12 months to the severity that it interfered with their daily life. These increases in youth depression rates were creeping upward before the COVID pandemic began and now a staggering 36% of 11th graders in Iowa reported they felt sad or hopeless almost every day for two weeks or more in a row. Almost one in four 11th graders indicated they had thought about taking their own life.
These increases in depressed and suicidal youth are alarming. The data and the struggles of each youth represented in this report should give every one of us pause and serve as a call to action.
The encouraging news is that mental health prevention and intervention works for our youth and helps them get back to a full life in their community.
You have lifted up these youth through your volunteering, donations, and advocacy efforts. Thank you for being part of the solution. The need is greater than ever; we need you to continue to be champions for this mission.
Together, We’re Developing Strong Futures,
Anne Starr, M.S.W.
Orchard Place CEO