State officials and workplaces try to improve mental health of Maryland youth – WTOP News

Declining mental health among young people is an ongoing problem, and Maryland lawmakers, workplaces and schools are looking for solutions to help children and teens who struggle with anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts.

This article is republished with permission from WTOP news partner Maryland Matters. Sign up for Maryland Matters’ free email subscription today.

Declining mental health among young people is an ongoing problem, with lawmakers, workplaces and even local schools looking for solutions to help children and teens who struggle with anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts.

DiLeonardo said world events are exacerbating mental health issues among this generation and urged health care providers and local leaders to plan to incorporate mental health services that are sensitive to these needs, especially since Gen Z is expected to make up the majority of the workforce 30% by 2030.

“Every generation goes through a lot of events that really impact the way we see the world. Generation X, we’re different from baby boomers, from millennials, from generation Z,” DiLeonardo said. “But think about the top issues they have to deal with: financial instability, ongoing conflict, and uninterrupted internet access.”

She cited active shooter drills in schools, ongoing military conflicts and the 9/11 attacks, as well as the 2008 recession, as reasons for Gen Z’s poor mental health, along with the impact of social media and technology.

The mental health issues of Gen Z and young people could be discussed during the 2024 legislative session, when Maryland lawmakers will have the opportunity to change and expand behavioral health measures across the state.

Heavy use of social media among teens may lead to an increased risk of adverse mental health outcomes, according to a report from the Department of Legislative Services analyzing possible legislative topics.

The report says young people’s mental health needs remain high or unmet since the start of the pandemic. [COVID] Pandemic.

In 2021, students in grades 8 and 10 spent more than 3.5 hours a day on social media. Research shows that teenagers who spend more than three hours a day face double the risk of mental health problems, including symptoms of depression and anxiety, the report said.

There have been previous efforts to address the mental health crisis among young people in Maryland.

During the 2023 legislative session, Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) advanced and approved a broad behavioral health legislative package to study and evaluate how to best address mental health needs across the createsA committee will look at the mental health needs of specific communities, such as young people.

Additionally, the Maryland State Department of Health recently announced the expansion of the John G. Gildner Regional Institute for Children and Adolescents in Rockville.

The institute’s newly renovated Cabin 2 can accommodate 12 additional beds to help Maryland’s youth overcome emotional, behavioral and learning difficulties, according to a news release Tuesday. The facility is a residential treatment center that provides competency access services to youth court-ordered into the care of the Maryland State Department of Health.

Meanwhile, the Maryland Coordinated Community Support Alliance is reviewing grant proposals to support behavioral health efforts in communities and schools. The consortium has $120 million to allocate to various projects.

The coalition, tasked with improving behavioral services in schools, met in late November and reviewed 258 program proposals from 24 school districts, requesting a total of $380 million.

Funding requests for the project range from $37,000 to $17.9 million, but consortium staff plan to talk with applicants to see if they can reduce the size of the request.

Program proposals include school staff training, peer support, mental health apps, creative expression therapy, medication management and dating violence prevention.

Staff will provide recommendations on which proposals to fund and how much funding can be provided to projects. The coalition will meet in January to consider staff suggestions. Grants should be distributed in January.

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