Teen girls seeing 'dramatic' rise in poor mental health - U.S. CDC

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Feb 13 (Reuters) - Nearly three in five high school girls reported feeling sad or hopeless in 2021, representing a 60% increase over the past decade, and fared worse than boys of the same age across nearly all measures of mental health, U.S. government data showed.

The data shows a "dramatic" rise in experiences of violence, poor mental health and suicide risk in teens, especially in girls, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control said on Monday.

"The levels of poor mental health and suicidal thoughts and behaviors recorded by teenage girls are now higher than we have ever seen," said CDC's Kathleen Ethier told reporters.

The current study did not examine the cause of the spike but the CDC noted there was also a 20% increase in reports of sexual violence among high school girls since 2017, when the agency started monitoring this measure.

"CDC and many other researchers have looked at this and we know that with sexual violence, it is associated with mental health issues, substance use and also long-term health consequences," CDC's Debra Houry said.

About 57% of the female students reported "persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness", up from 36% in 2011, according to the data.

For male students, the figure rose to 29% from 21% during the same period.

There was improvement for adolescents in some areas, such as risky sexual behavior, substance abuse and bullying, but mental health and suicidal thoughts as well as experiences of violence worsened, the data showed.

Overall, 42% of high school students felt so sad or hopeless almost every day for at least two weeks in a row that they stopped their usual activities.

The study found 22% of teens had considered attempting suicide in the past year, of which female students accounted for more than twice that of male students.

Reporting by Nandhini Srinivasan in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli and Krishna Chandra Eluri

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