September 13, 2023
What Will It Take to Solve the Youth Mental Health Crisis?
By Peter Lucas
Almost 12 percent of high school–age youth experience severe major depression. The root causes of the problem are rarely confronted.
When I walked into my high school auditorium last December, I sensed something was wrong. The air felt heavy, the ground unstable. There was pin-drop silence, save for some stray sniffles from faculty members. One teacher’s reddened eyes stared straight ahead, not acknowledging anyone passing by her. Another struggled to make eye contact. But it was when our headmaster walked onstage and announced the suicide of a sophomore student that everyone in the auditorium was shattered.
After the assembly, people flooded the counseling offices. The school had called on community partners and sister schools to help comfort and support the 650 students. But they could only get to a fraction of the grief-stricken, many of whom are, months later, still reeling in the wake of a friend’s passing.
What became immediately apparent—despite my school’s sincere efforts at community-building and emotional support—was that schools still hadn’t figured out the right way to deal with the student mental health crisis. But can they do it alone?