Kind Communities – A Bridge to Youth Mental Wellness

Earlier this year, we commissioned a study from the Benenson Strategy Group. They surveyed over 3,000 young people between the ages 15-24 and over 1,000 parents, asking questions about mental health and wellness.

As we prepare to hit the road with our co-founder Lady Gaga for her Joanne World Tour, we wanted to conducted a comprehensive study of the factors that impact youth mental wellness to both ensure our work remains grounded in reliable evidence but also to spark conversation – with parents, educators, policy makers, and young people themselves.

By releasing the survey, we hope to raise awareness about mental health and wellbeing and provide people with helpful information that’s practical to their own lives. But just as importantly, we hope to use this as a tool to spur conversations about the issue so that we can improve understanding and breakdown stigma around mental health issues. We can’t wait to talk about this survey and release additional findings as we hit the road.

Some of our key findings include:

  • Kindness matters. Young people who describe their environments as kind are more likely to be mentally healthy. That’s true for youth in high schools, colleges, and the workplace.
  • Peer networks matter. Youth rely on a small set of close friends for support. And while young people also talk with their parents about important issues, parents don’t necessarily understand what’s going on with their children emotionally or what they’re willing to discuss.
  • Mental health resources matter. Young people with access to tangible resources are more mentally healthy. Furthermore, youth want to empower themselves with knowledge and skills to support their own wellness – and assist a friend who might be in crisis – but we need to do a better job providing those resources.

You can read the full report below. We hope it sparks a conversation and we hope you’ll be inspired to join us in our mission to make a kinder, braver world.

 

California

As part of Born This Way Foundation’s “Kind Communities – A Bridge to Youth Mental Wellness” survey we polled California young people to find out how their mental health compares to youth nationwide. You can see the full California report below and here are a few of the highlights:

  • California high schoolers are more stressed than their peers nationally, but California parents still underestimate the role of stress in their children’s lives.
  • High schools in California are less likely to offer mental health courses, but are more likely to offer resources for LGBTQ+ students.
  • California high schoolers are more likely to report bullying at their school, and less likely to say that their classmates will stick up for them.
  • California college students are more likely to say their school provides free mental health and counseling services but working youth in California are less likely to have access to mental health resources when compared to their peers nationwide.

The report includes data from online surveys of 417 California youth ages 15-24 and 93 parents of the same age group.

A Bridge To Mental Wellness In California from Born This Way Foundation

Illinois

As part of Born This Way Foundation’s “Kind Communities – A Bridge to Youth Mental Wellness” survey we polled Illinois young people to find out how their mental health compares to youth nationwide. You can see the full Illinois report below, but here are a few of the highlights:

  • 1 in 5 young people in Illinois report being a nervous person all or most of the time during the past month. In contrast, only 1 in 15 parents report their child being nervous, which is significantly lower than parents nationwide.
  • Over 40% of high school students in Illinois say their schools are not kind communities. This is concerning, as the survey shows a strong correlation between youth who are in kind environments and better mental health scores.
  • High schools in Illinois are doing a good job at fostering kindness in several key ways. For example, teachers are more likely to say “hello” to students in the morning- 55% compared to only 45% nationwide.

The report includes data from online surveys of 403 Illinois youth ages 15-24 and 59 parents of the same age group.

New York

As part of Born This Way Foundation’s “Kind Communities – A Bridge to Youth Mental Wellness” survey we polled New York young people to find out how their mental health compares to youth nationwide. You can see the full New York report below, but here are a few of the highlights:

  • New York parents are far more likely to underestimate their children’s anxiety levels than parents nationally. While 1 in 5 New York young people say they are a nervous person, only 1 in 20 parents describe their child as nervous.
  • New York youth prioritize their mental health, and take steps to support it, but are unlikely to discuss mental wellness with anyone. In fact, 60% of high schoolers, 44% of college students, and 43% of working youth say that they rarely or never discuss their mental health with anyone.
  • New York high schools outperform the nation when it comes to factors associated with fostering kind schools and thus student mental wellness. Students in NY are more likely to offer classes that focus on or discuss mental health (71% compared to 64% nationally), have teachers who often say hello to students when they arrive in the morning (56% compared to 45%), and have students who often make an effort to include peers who are different (21% to 16%).

The report includes data from online surveys of 402 New York youth ages 15-24 and 53 parents of the same age group.