A February 2021 survey of about 1,300 New York City youth, aged 14-24, found that only 42 percent who sought mental health support received it. Across the city, 35 percent of young people surveyed expressed a want or need for services; in the Bronx, half of youth surveyed wanted access.

New York’s School Response Clinicians, a group of 85 social workers helping students in crisis to lessen 911 and emergency room outreach, supported 3,591 unique students from October through December 2020, up from 242 students from July through September.

The data from NYC mirror mental health stories across age groups nationally — from elementary schoolers withdrawing from class activities in Los Angeles to a 51 percent spike in emergency room visits among teen girls after suspected suicide attempts. That the pandemic is exacerbating a pre-existing youth mental health crisis is by now well documented.

At least 28 states have pledged to bolster social-emotional and mental health support with pandemic relief funding. Oklahoma, for instance, dedicated $35 million for a School Counselor Corps of licensed mental health professionals. And since 2020, seven more states now allow mental health days as excused absences from school.

To help support the 26 New York City neighborhoods most deeply affected by the pandemic, the city’s Department of Education partnered with NYC Health + Hospitals to establish more mental health clinics in schools.

The DOE has hired at least 500 more social workers as a part of its $635 million academic recovery plan. In the city’s 2022 budget, about $165 million has been earmarked for mental health recovery. No line items reference youth mental health specifically. This could be a red flag in an already-murky support area — many providers fit under the same umbrella of “mental health services,” though not all provide services to adolescents.

Read the full article about youth mental health by Marianna McMurdock at The 74.