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Report: Many WA Kids Suffering from Anxiety, Depression


Monday, August 15, 2022   

The mental health of Washington state children is a major area of concern, according to a new report.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation's annual Kids Count Data Book is out and ranks the well-being of children in states based on four indicators: economic well-being, education, health and family and community.

This year, the Evergreen State comes in at 15. But it also has one of the highest rates in the nation of children and teens experiencing anxiety of depression, at 15%.

Dr. Stephan Blanford, executive director of the Seattle-based Children's Alliance, said schools are raising the alarm about this issue.

"That's something that we're really concerned about," said Blanford. "And we're really pleased that the Data Book is drawing attention to that issue."

The data was collected from 2020, the first year of the pandemic. Anxiety and depression rose across the country that year, according to the report.

Blanford said it's important for Washington state to find innovative ways to bring in more mental health providers to schools.

Blanford said mental health issues disproportionately impact children of color, but notes there's a mismatch between the diversity of Washington students and their providers - who are overwhelmingly white.

"For many kids, their issues are attached to their identities," said Blanford. "And so we have to hopefully diversify the field so that there are tighter matches between the students who need support and the providers who are offering that support."

Still, Washington state is doing better in many metrics, including more health coverage for kids and a higher rate of young children in school.

Leslie Boissiere, vice president of external affairs with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, said these are reasons to be hopeful about the future.

"Children today have better access to early education," said Boissiere. "Children have better access or more access to health insurance. And there's a tremendous sense of optimism among young people in terms of their ability and their desire to make this country better than it already is."

Disclosure: Annie E Casey Foundation contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, Criminal Justice, Early Childhood Education, Education, Juvenile Justice, Welfare Reform. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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