Survey: Minnesota students feel less safe and less supported

More students than ever reported mental health concerns.
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A student trying to cheat on the exams

The Minnesota Department of Health is sharing results from the 2019 Minnesota Student Survey (MSS), and the data is concerning. 

According to the news release, the results show fewer students feel engaged in school, believe their school provides a supportive place for learning, report good health, and feel safe. 

“Our students are talking to us and we must listen,” said Minnesota Education Commissioner Mary Cathryn Ricker. “No matter what is happening in students’ lives outside of school, we must make sure that they feel supported, safe, and welcomed when they’re in the classroom."

Mental health

More students than ever reported having long-term mental health, behavioral or emotional problems in 2019. This number increased from 18 percent of students in 2016 to 23 percent in 2019. 

The number of 11th grade girls who reported experiencing long-term mental health concerns more than doubled from 2013 to 2019. Female students were also twice as likely as male students to report these problems. 

Rates of suicide ideation increased across all grade levels. in 2013, 20 percent of 11th grade students reported seriously considering suicide compared to 24 percent this year.

LGBTQ+ students were about three times more likely than heterosexual students to report seriously considering suicide, and 11th grade transgender students were the most likely to report attempting suicide. 

Safety and bullying

Eighty-seven percent of students reported feeling safe at home, at school, and in their neighborhood. This is down from 90 percent in 2016. 

Nineteen percent of students reported being bullied or harassed on a weekly basis. The data shows bullying decreased from 2013 to 2016 but increased again between 2016 and 2019. 

Drug use

Some good news is teens are engaging in fewer risky behaviors and smoking rates are at an all-time low. Alcohol use, sexual activity and marijuana use have also decreased. 

However, one in four 11th grade students reported using an e-cigarette in the last 30 days. That's a 54 percent increase from 2016. 

Engagement and support

The data shows 73 percent of students feel highly engaged in school – down from 78 percent – and fewer students reported being engaged in out-of-school activities. 

Students also reported feeling slightly less supported – down to 71 percent – and have fewer caring relationships with adults. Students who reported having fewer caring relationships with adults were also more likely to have considered suicide. 

Missing school

This is the first time the survey asked students to report why they missed school. 

Black and Hispanic students were three times more likely than their peers to miss school because they didn't have a way to get to school. 

American Indian and Alaskan Native students were more likely to miss school because they felt sad, hopeless, anxious, stressed or angry.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7

If you or anyone you know needs support, please call 1-800-273-8255.

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