256: Helping Youth in Crisis

Heather Sebero, ASTHO Senior Analyst for Social and Behavioral Health, discusses the alarming mental health crisis impacting young people across the country; Dr. Anne Zink, ASTHO President-Elect and the Chief Medical Officer for the State of Alaska,...


Heather Sebero, ASTHO Senior Analyst for Social and Behavioral Health, discusses the alarming mental health crisis impacting young people across the country; Dr. Anne Zink, ASTHO President-Elect and the Chief Medical Officer for the State of Alaska, examines a new CDC report that says life expectancy in the U.S. has dropped; the COVID-19 pandemic emphasized the need for public health to build partnerships; and ASTHO legislative alerts are the best way to monitor important policy and budget decisions happening around the nation. 

CDC Webpage: Mental Health, Suicidality, and Connectedness Among High School Students During the COVID-19 Pandemic — Adolescent Behaviors and Experiences Survey, United States, January–June 2021

ASTHO Blog Article: State Policies to Improve Youth Mental Health and Reduce Suicides

The New York Times News Article: U.S. Life Expectancy Falls Again in ‘Historic’ Setback

ASTHO Blog Article: Public Health and Housing Partnerships: Lessons from New York and Rhode Island

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Transcript

ROBERT JOHNSON:

This is Public Health Review Morning Edition for Tuesday, September 6th, 2022. I'm Robert Johnson.

Now, today's news from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.

 

HEATHER SEBERO:

More than one in three high school students experienced poor mental health during the pandemic, and youth are also experiencing increased feelings of sadness and helplessness, and more youth are also considering suicide and attempting suicide.

JOHNSON:

ASTHO senior analyst Heather Sebero on the alarming mental health crisis impacting young people across the country.

SEBERO:

Feelings of sadness and hopelessness were found to be more common among lesbian, gay, and bisexual students, and the report from the CDC has highlighted these disparities. More than three out of four gay, lesbian, or bisexual students experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness throughout the pandemic, and nearly half of all gay, lesbian, or bisexual students seriously considered suicide, and over 26% actually attempted suicide.

JOHNSON:

Sebero says ASTHO members can help young people by working to improve access to mental health treatment.

SEBERO:

So, for example, the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 requires that healthcare insurers treat illnesses of the brain like depression and substance use disorder the same way that they treat illnesses of the body like diabetes and cancer. All states must meet the minimum requirements established by this law. However, states can—and states are—going above and beyond these initial requirements. States also have a critical role in ensuring that this law is properly enforced.

JOHNSON:

This is National Suicide Prevention Week. Sebero says it's a good time for public health agencies to assess what's happening in their jurisdictions.

SEBERO:

You may want to start by reviewing your youth mental health and suicide data to really gain an understanding of where you are at and what is happening in your area. You can also review what your state is doing to improve youth mental health and reduce suicide. I would also recommend that states find out how you are implementing and enforcing the mental health parity law.

JOHNSON:

Sebero wrote a blog article with more details about the work states and territories have done to address the crisis. You can read it using the link the show notes.

 

A new CDC report says life expectancy in the U.S. has dropped, with Native Americans and Alaskan Natives suffering the worst rates since World War II.

We caught up with ASTHO president-elect and Alaska chief medical officer, Dr. Anne Zink.

ANNE ZINK:

What can I do from my position to impact the situation? I mean, I think that's a question I ask myself every single day in this role. I hate those numbers. I hate seeing them and I want them desperately to be different.

JOHNSON:

Dr. Zink talks about the problem and tells us what it will take to reverse the trend later this week.

The New York Times covered the story. Read it using the link in the show notes.

 

Also this morning, public health agencies know how to build partnerships. O'Keyla Cooper has more in this report.

O'KEYLA COOPER:

The COVID-19 pandemic emphasized the need for public health to work with housing programs, especially in states like New York and Rhode Island.

ASTHO and the CDC worked with both to develop best practices for agencies that want to partner with their housing counterparts. Read more using the link in the show notes.

 

JOHNSON:

Finally today, ASTHO Legislative Alerts are the best way to monitor important policy and budget decisions happening in Washington, D.C. and in legislatures around the nation. If you'd like to stay in touch on these topics, you can sign up for ASTHO's Legislative Alerts using the link in the show notes.

 

While you're signing up for the newsletter, make sure to follow us by choosing the follow button on your favorite podcast app.

 

That'll do it for today's newscast. We're back tomorrow morning with more ASTHO news and information.

I'm Robert Johnson. You're listening to Public Health Review Morning Edition. Have a great day.

Anne Zink MD FACEP

Chief Medical Officer for the State of Alaska

Heather Sebero MPA

Senior Analyst, Social and Behavioral Health, ASTHO