Anxiety, depression diagnoses spiked for Pa. kids during pandemic | Thursday Morning Coffee

The increase slightly outpaced the national rate, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation

August 11, 2022 7:18 am

(Pa. Partnerships for Children, photo)

Good Thursday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

It’s already well-established that the massive societal disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic took a huge toll on the mental health of America’s young people.

New research by the Annie E. Casey Foundation (h/t Axios Philadelphia) shows that the Keystone State’s children were diagnosed with anxiety and depression at a rate that slightly outpaced the national average.

Thirteen percent of Pennsylvania’s young people received such diagnoses in 2020, up from the 10.2 percent who received a similar diagnosis in 2016, the research showed. That’s an increase of 27.5 percent, and slightly higher than the national increase of 25.5 percent during the same time period, the research showed.

“In the 2000s, experts estimated that 14 percent [to] 20 percent of young people in America were experiencing a mental, emotional or behavioral disorder at any given time,” the report’s authors wrote. “Conditions for the current generation appear to be worse.”

Pennsylvania ranked 21st nationwide for overall child wellbeing, a metric that took into account the state’s overall economic, education, health and family and community wellbeing.

“This year, New England states hold the top two spots for overall child well-being. Massachusetts ranks first, followed by New Hampshire and Minnesota. Mississippi (at 48th place), Louisiana (49th) and New Mexico (50th) are the three lowest-ranked states,” the report’s authors wrote.

(Source: Annie E. Casey Foundation)
(Source: Annie E. Casey Foundation)

Looking at the individual metrics, Pennsylvania finished 7th nationwide for educational wellbeing; 23rd for economic wellbeing; 20th for health, and 25th for family and community wellbeing, according to the report.

And “in addition to differences across states, the overall rankings obscure important variations within states,” the report’s authors noted.

“Although most state rankings did not vary dramatically across domains, there are a few exceptions,” they continued. “For example, Idaho ranks 36th for Education but ninth for Family and Community. California ranks seventh in Health and 45th for Economic Well-Being. For all states, the index identified bright spots and room for improvement.”

The report offers three recommendations for improvement:

  • “[Prioritizing] meeting kids’ basic needs;
  • “[Ensuring] all children have access to the mental health care they need, when and where they need it,” and
  • “[Bolstering] mental health care that accounts for young people’s different experiences and identities.”

“We all want kids to thrive. We know their mental health is as essential as their physical health to their ability to succeed in life,” the report’s authors wrote.

“But far too many of America’s children were struggling before COVID-19, and many more are now,” they concluded. “Our leaders should respond in this moment of crisis to fully support children and families and give young people every opportunity to realize their potential.”

Carol Martinez makes and sells pupusas with her mother, Helen, next to a soccer game at Montour Junction Sports Complex in Coraopolis on 7/31/22 (Pittsburgh City Paper photo by Nate Smallwood).

Our Stuff.
Coraopolis, Pa., about 10 miles northwest of Pittsburgh, is becoming a community hub for the Steel City’s growing Latino population. Our partners at Pittsburgh City Paper explain why that’s happened.

State lawmakers and abortion rights advocates say the landslide defeat of  Kansas’ attempted abortion ban is an example of miscalculated efforts to enact a similar constitutional amendment in Pennsylvania. Cassie Miller has the story.

The Biden administration has begun encouraging health care providers to change the way they’re administering vaccines to protect against monkeypox, in an attempt to stretch out doses fivefold, Capital-Star Washington Reporter Jennifer Shutt writes.

The attorneys general of 10 states, including Pennsylvania, are backing a proposed rule by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that is meant to get poultry growers fair agreements with meat processors, but they want stronger oversight, Jared Strong, of our sibling site, the Iowa Capital Dispatch, reports.

On our Commentary Page this morning: Fighting monopolies is critical to restoring democratic control over our economy, advocate Justin Stofferhahn writes in a piece first published by our sibling site the Minnesota Reformer. And opinion regular Mark O’Keefe parses the latest poll results in Pennsylvania’s closely watched races for U.S. Senate and governor, and what they might herald for the road ahead.

U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-10th District, speaking at a Capitol news conference on Thursday, 7/29/21 (C-Span screen capture)

In a statement, U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-10th District, has said he’s not a target of a federal probePennLive reports. Citing sources, PennLive also reported that FBI agents delivered subpoenas to several GOP state lawmakers.

The FBI reportedly was tipped off by an informant who guided them to where documents were stored when agents searched former President Donald Trump’s Florida residence this week, Insider reports.

Pennsylvania physicians allied with Democratic U.S. Senate hopeful John Fetterman are calling his Republican rival, Dr. Mehmet Oza ‘threat to public health,’ WHYY-FM reports (via WITF-FM).

In Philadelphia, city and federal officials are pledging better collaboration to fight gun violence, the Inquirer reports.

The U.S. Dept. of Transportation has awarded Pittsburgh an $11.3 million grant to rebuild the streets in the city’s Hill District, the Post-Gazette reports.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is pledging action to unsnarl this year’s epic airline delays, Politico reports.

In Allentown, advocates rallied outside the Lehigh County Courthouse to call for compassionate release for elderly and ill people being held in state prisons, the Morning Call reports.

Acting Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary Neil Weaver toured Pittston, Pa. on Wednesday, calling the city a ‘success story,’ the Citizens’ Voice reports.

GoErie runs down the funding for Lake Erie cleanup efforts in this year’s state budget.

Here’s your #Pennsylvania Instagram of the Day:

What Goes On
10 a.m., Pittsburgh: The House and Senate Democratic Policy committees hold a joint hearing with the Women’s Health Caucus on abortion access after Roe v. Wade was overturned.

As of this writing, Gov. Tom Wolf has no public schedule today.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept
Best wishes go out this morning to PennLive’s Amy Worden, who marks another trip around the sun. Congratulations and enjoy the day.

Heavy Rotation
Here’s ‘Kids‘ from MGMT to get your Thursday morning rolling. Has it been played to death? Arguably, yes. Has it lost any of its power? Absolutely not.

Thursday’s Gratuitous Soccer Link
The Guardian previews the coming Serie A season in Italy. Inter and Juventus are looking to returning stars to put them on top.

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.