OHIO — Kids of all ages struggled with their mental health once the pandemic began and data released from the Annie E. Casey Foundation from its annual Kids Count Data Book shows just how much they struggled.

This data includes new information on all 50 states about the mental health of kids ages three to 17. 

What You Need To Know

  • Nationally, anxiety and depression jumped by 26% among kids ages 3-17

  • According to the Data Book, mental health challenges increased in Ohio kids to 42.4% from 2016 to 2020

  • Currently, Ohio ranks 27th in economic well-being, 28th in education, 32nd in health according to the Data Book

Kim Eckhart, Kids Count Project Manager for the Children's Defense Fund Ohio, explained that in certain cases it is to be expected following the disruptions of the pandemic.

“From being in remote learning and other things that have happened during the pandemic that have really affected their wellbeing and their ability to cope with the things that are going on in their lives,” Eckhart said.

Eckhart added that the good thing is families started reaching out for help. She said what’s needed now is the state providing more accessibility to additional resources like counselors and mental health care, even through schools without going through a “medical maze.”

Eckhart said this is especially needed for those in Appalachia and in places where transportation is a challenge. 

In the meantime, because rates of anxiety and depression among youth have increased in the U.S., the U.S. Surgeon General is calling it a mental health pandemic. It comes as a response to what happened with the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Eckhart said legislators need to know, “We care about our children and we can make investments in their future into their schools into the mental health care system, so that they're getting access to the services that they need.”

This will be helpful as “After the huge public health emergency is over. We're going to see a cliff in terms of the benefits that children have received.”