Gov. Kathy Hochul has announced she and her staff will embark on a series of listening sessions across the state, culminating in a spring summit aimed at exploring the issues that are impacting the mental health of New York’s young people.
The listening tour will provide an opportunity for experts to advise state leaders on future policy recommendations to improve youth wellness, the GOvernor’s Office said.
“As New York state’s first female governor and the only mother to hold this office, I’m deeply disturbed by recent reports on instances of teen depression – especially following the isolation and uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Hochul said.
The listening sessions are being coordinated by the Office of Mental Health and the Office of Children and Family Services. Each session will be moderated by representatives from these agencies and will involve a school-age youth from each host community.
Hochul said she also plans to convene a Summit on Youth Mental Health and Wellness in May, coinciding with Mental Health Awareness Month.
The summit — scheduled to happen this May — will bring together young people and their parents alongside mental health, education, technology, and law enforcement experts to talk about what impacts their well-being, including the role social media plays in their lives.
Last month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control issued its Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which found alarming mental health trends among school-aged youth between 2011 and 2021 — especially among teen girls.
Nearly a third of teen girls seriously considered attempting suicide in 2021, an increase from 19 percent the prior decade; about three in five felt persistently sad or hopeless in 2021, which was twice the rate of teen boys and represents a nearly 60 percent increase over the rate recorded in 2011.
The report also found that youth from marginalized populations are more likely to suffer mental health issues: More than half of LGBTQ+ students expressed having poor mental health, with one in five reporting having attempted suicide in the past year. Suicide attempts were also higher among Black youth when compared to white youth, according to the report.
“It’s time we put the mental wellbeing of our youth at the forefront and listen what they’re going through to gain a deeper understanding of this issue and meaningfully address the problems young New Yorkers face,” Hochul said.