Depression. Anxiety. Suicide. Those are the words that often come up when people talk about youth mental health. And for good reason: CDC data suggest suicide is now the second-leading cause of death for adolescents. Feelings of hopelessness have shot up by 33% among Washington tenth graders in the past decade, statewide data shows. And it’s hard to focus in class if you’re dealing with mental-health challenges.

But what about hope, recovery, openness or support? Many mental-health conditions are treatable. Therapists and schools can work together to get students help. Peer-to-peer support groups let young people talk about their issues with others who can relate. And as more people of every generation open up about their mental-health conditions publicly through storytelling events and the media, the stigmatization lessens and people are more likely to seek help.

Ed Lab reporter Hannah Furfaro is beginning to report on mental-health issues and Puget Sound Area schools. She’s already delving into the research that shows what’s effective for supporting youth — and what’s not. We want to make sure that these stories include a diversity of viewpoints. We want your interests, needs and questions to drive our inquiry. Here’s our strategy so far:

  • We want to cast a wide net: If you or anyone you know is interested in this topic, text “mental health” to 855-603-3522 and share some of your thoughts. We’ll contact you periodically to ask more questions, seek clarification and offer resources. This broad pool of responses will help us determine which direction to take the reporting.  
  • Community conversations: We’re seeking community partners to collaborate with us in hosting conversations with students and educators — we’ll focus on students’ needs and hope participants will tell us what issues are being overlooked or misrepresented. Interested in participating, or know someone we should reach out to? Email me at edlab@seattletimes.com.
  • Amplify student perspectives: We’ll include students’ stories told by the students themselves in different ways. More on this to come.

What are your thoughts? Would you like to be involved? Text us at the number above. 

Please remember that help is immediately available. If you or someone you know is considering suicide, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK. Young people can speak to other youth by connecting with Teen Link via chat, text, or phone. Their number is 1-866-TEENLINK.


Talk to us:
To join the conversation, text MENTAL HEALTH to 855-603-3522 or enter your phone number below.