FRIDAY, April 1, 2022 (HealthDay News) — For adolescents, feelings of connectedness were associated with lower prevalence of poor mental health and suicidality during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to research published in a supplement to the April 1 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Sherry Everett Jones, Ph.D., from the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues used data from the 2021 Adolescent Behaviors and Experiences Survey for 7,705 U.S. students in grades nine to 12 to examine mental health and suicidality during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The researchers found that during the pandemic, 37.1 percent of students experienced poor mental health and 31.1 percent experienced poor mental health in the preceding 30 days. In addition, 44.2, 19.9, and 9.0 percent experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness, had seriously considered attempting suicide, and had attempted suicide, respectively, during the 12 months before the survey. Students who did versus those who did not feel close to persons at school had a significantly lower prevalence of poor mental health during the pandemic (28.4 versus 45.2 percent) and during the past 30 days (23.5 versus 37.8 percent), persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness (35.4 versus 52.9 percent), having seriously considered attempting suicide (14.0 versus 25.6 percent), and having attempted suicide (5.8 versus 11.9 percent). Patterns were similar for students who were virtually connected to others during the pandemic.

“Students need our support now more than ever, whether by making sure that their schools are inclusive and safe or by providing opportunities to engage in their communities and be mentored by supportive adults,” a coauthor said in a statement.

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