Getting into a teenager’s head is hard.
That’s why the Healthy Youth Survey is a goldmine for educators, families, law enforcement professionals, prevention groups and other community members.
Administered in Washington schools every other year, the survey goes straight to the source, asking teenagers about substance use, physical health, mental illness and school climate. Public health experts examine the data and break it down to the county level.
Some key findings about Clark County 10th graders were presented April 11 at a Prevent Coalition meeting by Clark County Public Health epidemiologist Kathleen Lovgren:
- Asked which substances they had used at least once in their lives, 46 percent reported using alcohol, 35 percent reported using e-cigarettes, 27 percent reported using cannabis, and 6.9 percent reported using prescription drugs.
- The number who reported vaping in the past 30 days increased from 11.2 percent in 2016 to 21.4 percent in 2018.
- Of those who reported using e-cigarettes or vape pens, the number using nicotine dramatically increased from 4.9 percent in 2016 to 15.4 percent in 2018.
- 38 percent reported experiencing depression, a number that has been increasing since 2006.
- 21.5 percent reported considering suicide in the past year, a number that has been increasing since 2006.
The goal of sharing the data is to empower local groups to use the statistics when writing grants and in shaping interventions that address real issues—not just what people assume to be true.
The presentation also shared some relatively good news: Most students reported not using substances, and despite cannabis legalization in Washington, reported use is not increasing.
Community Prevention Project Coordinator Christopher Belisle offered another piece of encouragement: “We see early substance use can indicate depression, anxiety or trauma,” he said, “but it takes only one caring adult to significantly boost resilience in a young person.”
For more information on Prevent Coalition, and what you can do to help reduce youth substance use in Clark County, please visit https://www.preventcoalition.org.
The Healthy Youth Survey findings are available at https://www.askhys.net/. The survey is a collaborative effort of Washington’s Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Department of Health, Department of Social and Health Service’s Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery, and the Liquor and Cannabis Board.