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Kind Communities: Perspectives from Work and Returning to School among Young People

On behalf of Born This Way Foundation, Benenson Strategy Group conducted 1,001 online interviews with 15-24 year olds across the U.S., including oversamples of LGBTQ+ youth and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) from March 24-April 10, 2023. As many young people are returning to the classroom this Fall, the focus of this report is to explore young people’s relationships with their schools, campuses, places of work, classmates, and co-workers, with a particular interest in how these environments and the relationships they foster intersect with or impact young people’s mental health. This report tracks changes to many dynamics explored among these audiences since the inaugural 2017 Kind Communities – A Bridge To Youth Mental Wellness research.

This report refers to several groups throughout:

  • School students: Respondents who are between the grade levels of 6th and 12th grade.
  • Postsecondary students: Respondents who are between the first year and fifth year of college or university, or who are in graduate school.
  • Young workers: Respondents who are employed full-time or part-time, or are self-employed.

Highlights include:

  • Fewer than half of school students report feeling a part of a kind community. The landscape students and young workers are navigating has become harder for them since 2017, exacerbated by the pandemic. 47% of school students in 6th-12th grades report feeling a part of a “kind community”, a drop of 14% in 6 years.
  • Fewer workers and students report feeling a part of a kind community than in 2017. Meanwhile, 44% of students in college, university, or graduate school report feeling a part of a kind community (down 8% since 2017), and 55% of young workers report feeling a part of a kind community (down 5% since 2017).
  • Kindness is not experienced equally. LGBTQ+ young people in schools and workplaces are less likely than non-LGBTQ+ youth to say they experience kindness.
  • Mental health is not covered in school, and when it is, it’s inconsistent. Nearly 4-in-10 school students say mental health is not a topic covered in any curriculum – and for those who are taught about the topic, the quality of classes is not consistently delivering the competencies for all students to develop mental health literacy.
  • Less than 1-in-3 school students say that training is offered at their schools to learn how to emotionally support their peers.
  • Many young workers lack critical benefits that support their wellbeing. Fewer than half of young workers are provided mental healthcare by their workplaces.

Click here to download the report or find the report here: