CDC Report: Teenage Girls Experiencing Increased Sadness & Violence

WACO, TX – Alarming news from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) points to teen girls experiencing record levels of violence, sadness, and suicide risk. The CDC data says nearly 3 in 5 U.S. teen girls felt persistently sad or hopeless in 2021, double the number for U.S. teen boys.

The Heart of Texas Behavioral Health Network is here to help in our six-county service area with services from the Klaras Center for Families (KCF). Katie Chadwell, Child and Adolescent Therapist for KCF, says she has noticed an uptick in depression and anxiety since the COVID-19 pandemic started in 2020.

“Often, internalizing mental health disorders (such as depression or anxiety) are reported at higher rates for females than males because of the stigma that many males perceive when showing their feelings and admitting that they are struggling,” Chadwell said. “We sometimes see struggling males display physical aggression, anger, and other maladaptive behaviors instead of showing the textbook signs of depression and anxiety. Because males sometimes show these externalizing behaviors instead of internalizing struggle, the prevalence of anxiety and depression can be easily misrepresented and miscalculated for males.”

Chadwell stressed that services provided by HOTBHN and KFC help fill some of these gaps by providing psychoeducation to reduce mental health stigma in the community.

“HOTBHN and KCF aim to meet people where they are and be present and available for the community in as many ways as possible. KCF has a school-based program that allows case managers and counselors to be on select school campuses so that they are available to help and support students who are struggling quickly, Chadwell said. “GAPS is another program created by staff at KCF within the last year that addresses gang activity, substance use, trafficking, and other risky behaviors in the community. GAPS also aims to provide psychoeducation about healthy relationships, boundaries, and peer pressure to people in our McLennan, Bosque, Falls, Freestone, Hill, and Limestone Counties.”

HOTBHN and KCF regularly attend community events to give people resources they can use to get the support they need. KCF has also worked to create partnerships with other community agencies such as Waco PD, McLennan County Sheriff’s Department, Waco Housing Authority, Size of a Man, CIS, STARRY, VASA, and many others to serve community members in the most comprehensive way possible.

“The greatest change happens when agencies within the community work together to support, encourage, and assist community members,” Chadwell said. “Community agencies working together to support community members also helps reduce the stigma surrounding asking for help and makes resources more available and accessible to community members.”


Tanya Ledesma, Public Information Coordinator Cell: (254) 640-5229

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