Washington County kids face serious mental health, substance abuse problems

Photo: Lisa Roe, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Photo: Lisa Roe, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Washington County school officials are alarmed by the results of a 2012 substance abuse survey of 1,340 students from six county school districts, the Glens Falls Post-Star is reporting. The survey found that “nearly 21 percent of students said they were depressed on most days, 13.4 percent have considered suicide and about 7.2 percent had attempted suicide in the past 12 months before taking the survey.” The paper reports the county is exploring the possibility of district-based mental health clinics.

The survey’s not new, but this is the first time a specific question about suicide has been on it.

Other results from the survey: The top three substances that students took were alcohol, marijuana, and prescription drugs. There’s been a big decrease in how many kids have drunk alcohol, but 34 students said they’d driven drunk in the last 30 days; and 12 percent had been a passenger in a car driven by someone who’d been drinking. Pot use is down, but so is the age at which students are trying it. And more students are taking prescription drugs, which they’re getting from their parents or illegally from a doctor.

More on student health clinics, from the article:

School superintendents expressed interest in partnering with health officials to combat these problems. Granville Superintendent Mark Bessen said the district is looking to use available space at the district’s elementary school to house a health clinic.

The district would not charge the health provider any rent, but provide in-kind services such as utilities. Also, the district would like to be able to use the health officials as a resource.

Bessen pointed to Bassett Medical Center in Cooperstown as a model. They have put clinics in the schools and attendance has shot up because students are getting their health needs addressed.

Bessen said another problem is finding trained health professionals such as psychiatrists that specialize with children.

“I think there’s two north of Saratoga. It’s not easy,” he said.

Hudson Falls Superintendent Mark Doody said he has been having some conversations with the Hudson Headwaters Health Network officials.

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12 Comments on “Washington County kids face serious mental health, substance abuse problems”

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  1. “…about 7.2 percent had attempted suicide in the past 12 months before taking the survey.”


  2. James says:

    “And more students are taking prescription drugs, which they’re getting from their parents or illegally from a doctor”

    Really!…What the heck is going on in our society where doctors are illegally providing prescription drugs to kids. If this is happening, these doctors should be identified and held accountable.

  3. The Original Larry says:

    28 comments on un-friending people on Facebook and two comments on this and we are “alarmed” by this problem? Are people paying enough attention to their children?

  4. Actually Facebook and Twitter are quite good ways to get insight into what kids are *really* thinking and how they’re really interacting.

    But the spirit of OLarry’s sentiment, I couldn’t agree with more.

  5. Mervel says:

    There is no doubt the both the medical industry and the drug industry have been part of this problem. As all drugs become more acceptable, yes legalization is part of that cultural acceptance of drugs, we will see more death and more addicts and more misery. Law enforcement is not the answer either, this is not like other crimes and should not be treated that way.

    But as long as the adults are taking narcotics for any variety of chronic pain conditions, it will be very hard to convince young people that it is just horrible. Narcotics are needed for end of life care and extreme pain conditions, but they are not a solution for chronic pain and we have bought into the idea that they are.

  6. mervel says:

    Man I feel like I have low T. I hope I can get something for not being cranky or slower at my age; I am sure it is another “problem” that can be cured by a drug.

  7. mervel says:

    Of course I had never heard of low t until 2 years ago, in fact NO ONE had, and jeesh, we seemed to get by.

  8. mervel says:

    Most of the drugs developed today, the billions that drug companies worry about being taken away by the government that might cause them to quite doing research and “helping” us; have nothing to do with disease or cures for illness. They are for impotence, fatness, lack of energy, inability to sleep, needing a fix to get over some so called pain, and on and on and on.

    This is why places like the Tuadau institute who are actually working on cures for basic disease, have trouble getting funding, and why Costa Rica has better health outcomes than the US>

  9. Mervel, if a kid is the least bit non-conformist, the first solution always seems to be shove some Ritalin or whatever down his throat. That’s a far more powerful message to send to kids. If you have a problem, the first resort should be drugs. Kids can spot hypocrisy a mile away.

  10. Pete Klein says:

    One thing you will never know from this latest survey is the percentage of kids who took it were scamming it for the fun of it.
    I have no doubt many kids are depressed. Why wouldn’t they be when it is so much less fun to be a kid today?
    We treat kids as though all are potential criminals and all their friends are a bad influence. When every bit of schooling from Pre-K and beyond is about them getting a great job to contribute to the economy and support us in our old age, what do you expect from them?
    I thank my lucky stars I was a kid in the 40’s and 50’s when all you needed to do was be a kid and go out and play after you did your homework.

  11. Mervel says:

    I agree Brian.

  12. Depression says:

    This seems to be a trend everywhere. Kids are getting into their parent’s medicine cabinets and taking whatever they find without fully understanding what they are for.

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