Mental Health Disorders in US Students: Startling Statistics, Possible Help

By Zoe Castle/Staff writer

When we all think of school, what comes to mind? Some students think of their friends, teachers, or sports. Others think of the homework, studying for tests, and being stressed.  

According to “Mental Health in Schools: A Hidden Crisis Affecting Millions of Students,” an NPR article written by Meg Anderson on August 31, 2016, studies have shown that 1 in 5 students have mental health disorders, whether it be depression, anxiety, or substance abuse. So in a grade of 300, about 60 of those students may have mental health disorders and need help.

According to the article, almost 80% of those who need help, won’t get it. Some of the reasons for being unable to get help include the family’s culture/beliefs or being uninsured and/or unable to afford the care, which is other important issues as well. These students with mental health disorders still have to attend school. Their untreated disorder can greatly affect their school life and personal life.

Over 50% of students ages 14 and older with mental health problems could drop out, have substance abuse troubles, and have other issues that could create more problems for them. In fact, according to an article written by the Association for Children’s Mental Health at, youth with emotional and behavioral disorders have the worst graduation rate of all students with disabilities.

Students who have these dilemmas may show disruptive behavior, chronic absence, and may even drop out. School is a critical place for students to get the social and educational interactions they need to be successful. This is where most of our youth spend their time.

In 2017, a Centers for Disease Control Youth Risk Behavior survey asked high school students between the grades of 9-12 if they had ever had felt sad or hopeless almost every day for two or more weeks in a row and to the point where they stopped doing some of their normal activity. The results came back and 41% of female students said they’ve experienced this, and 21% of male students said they’ve also experienced these feelings in the last 12 months. Since 2007, ER visits annually for adolescent suicide attempts or suicide ideation have risen from 580,000 to 1.2 million in 2015.    

School administrators make big decisions for their school. Some administrators decide to bring in assemblies that talk about bullying, suicide prevention, and other mental health-related issues. These forums can help tremendously and can give them a way to talk about what’s wrong and get the help they need. This may be one way for students across the country to find more resources.   

Clearly, there are many issues involved with mental health for teens and the statistics are daunting. Another factor that can help is having a school psychologist and/or a social worker in schools.  Mrs. Tammi Broadus, school social worker at the GC Academy, said, “There is a current bill in the Senate looking to increase funding for mental health support in schools.  Once we get this bill passed, we can begin doing the work of hiring more mental health professionals in schools.” In February 2019, Indiana lawmakers discussed a bill that would help districts provide mental health services to students, according to a Fox 59 article by Kelly Reinke on Feb. 14. After a 13-0 vote by the State Senate Appropriations Committee, it’s now making its way to the Indiana Senate floor.

State Senator Michael Crider, the co-author of SB266, said in the article that his bill would allow schools to bring in providers in addition to counselors already on campus.

These staff members and resources can be very beneficial to students who need someone to confide in. Having these resources to help students can make a big change for those who cannot afford counseling or who don’t necessarily have anyone in their home lives who can do something about their children’s mental health. These students are our future; we need to make sure they have the best possible lives. Hopefully, more schools nationwide will get the resources they need to help their students.