One in 12 Pa. high-schoolers attempted suicide last year; advocates seek counselors, social workers

While slightly fewer Pennsylvania children are in poverty or have a parent without secure employment compared to last year, mental health needs continue to increase across the state.

That’s according to new data from the Annie E Casey Foundation’s annual report on child wellbeing. Across the country, children are in the midst of what the U.S. Surgeon General has called a youth “mental health pandemic,” with an unprecedented number of children struggling with anxiety and depression.

In Pennsylvania, a quarter more kids are dealing with anxiety and depression than the year before. This year’s report shows 282,000 children ages 3-17 were reported with those conditions, compared to 226,000 in the previous year. Across the commonwealth 1 in every 12 high schoolers attempted suicide last year, according to the report.

“During the pandemic, we’ve seen a record number of children enrolled in Medicaid, and one of our goals is to ensure they stay covered when the federal public health emergency ends,” said Kari King, president and CEO of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children. “The state can support child mental health by ensuring it is thoughtful and proactive in its approach when it begins to redetermine eligibility for all children enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP.”

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