The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the lives of all Arkansans. For many of us — but particularly for our youth — the pandemic interrupted educational attainment, created stressors that impacted mental health and well-being, and impaired opportunities for social connection.
Other factors contributing to youth mental health issues, such as social media use, have garnered the attention of health leaders, policymakers, communities, and the media. A U.S. surgeon general’s advisory warned that although social media may offer benefits to some young people, “social media can also have a profound risk of harm to the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents.”
To address these challenges, it is critical that we measure trends in youth behavior that could be associated with the impacts of the pandemic. That is why, as part of our 100 Arkansans initiative, we have updated our infographic showing trends in risky and antisocial behavior and substance use among public high school seniors, including emerging trends during the pandemic.
Key takeaways include:
- In 2021, 17% of public high school seniors reported being electronically bullied at least once in the past year.1
- The percentage of public high school seniors who reported feeling sad or hopeless almost every day for two or more weeks in a row increased 11.5 percentage points from 2015 to 2021.1
- The percentage of public high school seniors who reported being suspended from school in the past year increased 2.7 percentage points from 2017 to 2022.2
- In 2022, 1 in 5 public high school seniors reported using a vaping product (including vaping liquids containing flavoring, nicotine, or marijuana concentrates) in the past 30 days.2
1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. High school YRBS: Arkansas 2021 results. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Accessed August 29, 2023. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/data/yrbs/results.htm
2 Arkansas Department of Human Services, Division of Behavioral Health Services. States and regions 2022. Arkansas Prevention Needs Assessment Survey website. Accessed August 29, 2023. https://arkansas.pridesurveys.com/regions.php?year=2022