Pandemic prompts rise in mental health concerns among youth, but resources are available

By Regence
February 12, 2021

"This a wake-up call. It's time to destigmatize mental health needs and to have more open conversations with your children."

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed nearly every aspect of our lives and heightened emotions like stress, anxiety and loneliness. Youth are not left out of this equation. 

In fact, Mental Health America reports that 9.7% of youth in the U.S. have been diagnosed with clinical depression (medically known as “severe major depression”), up from 9.2% in the previous year. The report also found that school-aged children (ages 11 to 17) were more likely than any other age group to experience moderate to severe symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Suicide rates among youth and children have been on the rise  the last decade, increasing nearly 60% between 2007 and 2018. This trend is expected to carry on as youth continue to grapple with social isolation, navigating at-home school and lack of access to connection-building activities like sports or clubs.

“Our youth are bearing the brunt of a mental health crisis that has been intensified by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” says Dr. Hossam Mahmoud, Regence’s behavioral health medical director. “Parents and guardians: This a wake-up call. It is time to destigmatize mental health needs and to have more open conversations about mental health and well-being with your children, especially in these stressful and uncertain times. They need your support, now more than ever.”

If you or someone you know is struggling with feelings of anxiety, depression or thoughts of suicide, there is help available. Consider seeking out resources offered in your community or through your health plan.

Connect to local resources and explore tips for managing mental health

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is dedicated to raising awareness and providing support and education. NAMI offers peer-to-peer family support groups, a HelpLine that provides information and resource referrals, and additional resources for teens and young adults who may be struggling.

Search for your local NAMI affiliate to find programs and supports offered in your area. 

If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, help is just a call away

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) National Helpline, 1 (800) 662-HELP (4357), is a confidential, free information service providing 24/7 support for people (English and Spanish speakers) with mental or substance use conditions.

Local organizations, such as your state’s health authority and dedicated nonprofits, can connect you to additional resources in your area; Oregon-based Lines for Life offers a racial equity support line, along with YouthLine – a teen-to-teen crisis youth line that connects teens to peers that can listen to and support them.

If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1 (800) 273-8255 (en Español: 1 (888) 628-9454; TTY users dial 711, then 1 (800) 273-8255) or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.

Regence members have access to additional resources to support mental health

If your child is struggling, start by talking to their primary care physician. The physician can offer recommendations or refer you to a mental health provider. Regence members can easily search for in-network physicians through the Find a Doctor tool.

Through our wellness platform, Regence Empower, members can also access self-guided programs on managing stress, building resilience and boosting nutrition, among other topics.

Our Customer Service team is specially trained in Mental Health First Aid and can help you understand your mental health benefits or find support. Call the number on the back of your card to connect with our team.

To learn more about your health plan’s mental health benefits and coverage, sign into your account on