Tennessee ranks 36th in child well-being
The Kids Count 2022 report shows that children suffer from anxiety and depression at high levels.
Knoxville, Tenn. – Newly released data shows Tennessee ranks 36th in overall child well-being, according to the 2022 KIDS COUNT Data Book. This year’s annual report focuses on youth mental health.
The Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth said “children in America are in the midst of a mental health crisis, struggling with anxiety and depression at unprecedented levels.”
The report says that’s also true in Tennessee. According to the report, about 10% of children suffer from anxiety or depression.
“What comes to mind is the abuse that children face in our community, the poverty that some of our families face, as well as the lack of access to resources,” said Vonda McGill, Clinical Director of Childhelp Child Advocacy Center. in Knoxville.
The center is designed for children who have been abused or neglected. They do forensic interviews, victim advocacy and therapy for children. McGill is also a therapist at the center, she hears the big mental problems facing this generation.
“We see a lot of kids struggling with anxiety and depression,” she said.
McGill reviewed negative childhood experiences that are directly correlated with mental health issues related to future trauma, victimization and perpetration of violence.
The most common ACEs are:
- Physical violence
- Sexual abuse
- emotional abuse
- physical neglect
- emotional neglect
- Mental illness
- substance abuse
- Violence against your mother or father
- Mental illness
- Having a relative who was sent to jail or prison
“It can be a wide variety of things,” McGill said. “But the more adverse childhood experiences a child has, the more they will struggle with anxiety and depression.”
The Kids Count data book also tracked several other areas that can affect a child’s mental health. Some of the factors that go into the wellbeing report are economic wellbeing, education, health, family, and community.
She also said she believes one of the areas also affecting children’s wellbeing, which is not listed in the report, is how social media use can impact health. mental.
“A lot of our kids these days are getting phones at a very young age. And there’s a lack of parental control, parents often don’t know what their kids are doing online,” McGill said.
There are apps that parents can download to their kids’ phones to track location, money, text messages, web searches, and phone calls. Some prominent apps are Life 360, which prioritizes family safety in the car with accident detection, speed limit notification, and location services. Parents can use this app to track the locations of their teenager.
Another is Net Nanny, which shows parents what their children are looking for in their cellphone internet browsers, most used apps and real-time alerts on search terms such as “porn”, “suicide”, “weapons” and “drugs”. related content.
Additionally, the Bark app monitors texts, emails, YouTube and over 30 other apps and social media platforms for signs of issues such as cyberbullying, sexual content, online predators, depression , suicidal thoughts, threats of violence, etc.
McGill said it was important for parents to put controls like this in place to monitor behavior.
“We see a high rate of children who are victimized by children, children who have been exposed to pornography, children who are victims themselves and who victimize other children,” McGill said.
She said cyberbullying is also still very prevalent on social media.
“They deal with depression and anxiety based on what’s going on in school, what’s going on in the online community, how they’re being bullied,” McGill said. “This is a very serious problem.”
The issue of technology has become so pervasive that McGill says some teenagers are outwitting their parents. A common grounding technique for parents is to remove cellphones and technology, but McGill said more teens are using “burner phones” to access social media.
“I have clients come in, and they talk about having a phone to burn, which is basically a phone they got from a friend that their parents don’t know they have,” McGill said.
These are usually cheap prepaid cell phones that are easy to throw away and often hard to find. People can prepay for minutes and data rates. When the phone runs out, they can either add more data and minutes or buy a new phone.
“Kids tell me they have these secondary phones,” Mcgill said. “It’s definitely a problem. These kids are accessing things. And the parents aren’t even aware of it.”
The Childhelp Child Advocacy Center is eager to help any family or child who may be experiencing anxiety or depression. They urge people to call 1-800-4-A-CHILD to connect to resources.