Research News in Youth Mental Health - March 2024

Wisconsin Office of Children's Mental Health logo

Research News in Youth Mental Health - March 2024

Research icon


Office of Children's Mental Health (OCMH) Senior Research Analyst, Amy Marsman, spotlights recent articles, resources, and research findings impacting youth mental health.

New Data Dashboard for the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

Wisconsin has a new data dashboard highlighting how the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline service is being used throughout the state. The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline connects Wisconsinites experiencing a suicidal, mental health, and/or substance use concern with confidential support from a trained counselor. People can voluntarily provide demographic information.

The data dashboard shows how many people are contacting 988, reason for contacting 988, how many counselors are answering Wisconsin contacts, and how many are resolved through support from the counselors. Dashboard users can view the data for calls verses chats along with demographic information (when provided by callers) such as age, gender, race, and ethnicity. The dashboard displays data by month and by county.

This information is used only in summary form and allows for evaluating the needs, performance, and reach of the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline over time. This includes addressing service gaps and helping ensure that everyone has an equal chance to benefit from the service. The 988 data dashboard was developed by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute Evaluation & Engaged Research Group, in collaboration and partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and Family Services of Northeast Wisconsin, the operators of the 988 Wisconsin Lifeline.


The Trevor Project finds 1 in 5 (21%) Black transgender, nonbinary, or questioning young people reported a suicide attempt in the past year

A large body of research links experiences of discrimination to adverse mental health outcomes and suicide attempts (Vargas et al., 2020). Although there is well-documented evidence of discrimination's harm, there is a lack of research focused on groups who routinely experience discrimination on the basis of their multiple marginalized identities, such as Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or questioning (LGBTQ+) young people (Bowleg, 2021; Bowleg et al., 2017). This gap in knowledge is critical because of the possible additive effects of repeatedly experiencing discrimination.

Black LGBTQ+ young people specifically report high rates of discrimination and victimization, as well as high rates of anxiety, depression, and suicide. Using data from The Trevor Project’s 2023 U.S. National Survey on the Mental Health of LGBTQ Young People, this brief highlights the specific context around experiencing multiple forms of discrimination, suicide, as well sources of support for Black LGBTQ+ young people.


Survey finds 45% of teens do not discuss their mental or emotional health with their doctor

Findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Health Interview Survey-Teen (NHIS-Teen) reveal that roughly 1 in 5 adolescents reported experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression, and a third (34%) of teens reported experiencing bullying. However, many teens (45%) are not discussing these concerns with their doctor. Further, only 20% reported discussing transitions in their health care when they turn 18. A comprehensive look at current youth mental health data, including NHIS-Teen, are provided in KFF’s Recent Trends summary.


Research suggests teachers are not comfortable or clear on how to support mental health literacy in the classroom

Research demonstrates a need for an expansion of mental health literacy (MHL) and mental health support in K-12 schools, drawing attention to the role of educators in these initiatives. Through a theoretical lens grounded in role theory, this case study describes the experiences of three middle school English Language Arts teachers as they navigate the planning and implementation of a novel MHL unit of study. Insights are offered into the ways in which teachers navigate this collaborative work and integrate certain tensions as a precursor to increasing role clarity.


Study finds a striking relationship between the age at which somebody first owned a smartphone and that person’s mental health as a young adult

Many studies have found a correlation between the amount of time that teens, especially girls, spend on smartphones and the likelihood that they will be depressed or have low self-esteem. This study, using data from an ongoing survey of global mental wellbeing, found young adults (ages 18-24) who acquired their first smartphone at an older age had, on average, progressively better mental wellbeing. Problems with suicidal thoughts declined most steeply and significantly with older age of first smartphone ownership.


NYC Declares Social Media a Public Health Hazard

Citing the youth mental health crisis, New York City (NYC) declared social media a digital toxin and public health hazard. In issuing an advisory, which identifies unfettered access to and use of social media as a public health hazard, just as past U.S. surgeons general have done with tobacco and firearms, the advisory provides recommendations to parents and caregivers, health care providers, educators, and policymakers on actions that can be taken to protect children, including the recommendation to delay social media use until the age of 14. It calls for the regulation, control, and mitigation of social media’s impact on public health. The city’s leadership also joined a lawsuit against social media giants.


More than 1 million people living in Wisconsin have a diagnosed mental health condition

Inseparable is a national nonprofit working to advance mental health policy solutions that help people thrive, including by increasing access to care, improving crisis response, and promoting youth mental health. Their latest report, Improving Mental Health Care THE ACCESS REPORT, highlights mental health coverage across types of health care as well as any progress states have made in expanding coverage.


Kids who read for pleasure show better mental health

Using data from the ABCD Study, research published in Psychological Medicine found that participants who regularly read for pleasure by age nine years old showed benefits in mental health, sleep, and cognition two years later. These children had fewer signs of stress or depression and fewer behavioral problems such as breaking rules and acting aggressively or impulsively. Researchers said they found “significant evidence that reading for pleasure is linked to important developmental factors in children, improving their cognition, mental health, and brain structure, which are cornerstones for future learning and well-being.”


Fact Sheet: Promoting Resilience and Emotional Health for Children, Youth, & Families with Positive Childhood Experiences (PCEs)

Positive childhood experiences (PCEs) refer to the everyday interactions, activities, and relationships that contribute to a child's overall well-being and emotional health. This fact sheet from the Great Lakes Mental Health Technology Transfer Center Network (MHTTC) offers culturally appropriate and trauma-informed strategies that promote PCEs and increase the emotional resilience of children, youth, and families. The print-friendly piece highlights 5 Key PCEs: safe and supportive environments, strong and caring relationships, play and recreation, emotional support and communication, and opportunities for learning and growth.


The State of Kids and Families in America 2024

In a new set of surveys from Lake Research Partners and Echelon Insights on behalf of Common Sense Media show that everyone—Democrat and Republican, parent and nonparent—has concerns for the future of America's children. More importantly, there are similarly bipartisan desires for the government to take action to better support kids and families. There is broad support for improving education, and mental health is squarely on their agenda. Also contrary to conventional wisdom, voters across party lines favor financial investments in kids and families, see a role for government, and think that politicians are failing to deliver. Report and executive summary are available at Common Sense Media.