Clarksville nonprofit creating safe space for girls following CDC report on teen mental health
CLARKSVILLE, Ind. (WAVE) - An eye-opening report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has pulled back the curtain on teenagers’ mental health in America.
The report, called the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, polled more than 17,000 U.S. high school students, asking them questions about their mental health and happiness.
It showed 57% of girls felt “persistently sad or hopeless,” the highest rate in a decade.
Thirty percent of girls said they have seriously considered suicide.
The report also showed sexual violence had also risen among teen girls. Roughly one in five teens said they’d experienced sexual violence, while 14% said they had been forced into having sex.
That said, the survey found alcohol consumption continues to decline in teens. In the survey, 23% of students said they drank alcohol, compared to 39% in 2011.
Sixteen percent said they currently use marijuana, compared with 23% in 2011.
Roughly 12% admitted to ever misusing prescription opioids, down from 14% in 2019 and 2017.
Those numbers were sad, but not startling, to Tish Frederick.
“So it broke my heart, but I wasn’t shocked by it,” Frederick said. “So at school, you have pressure. We know that’s going to be there. You have sports, but then you come home in your safe, and there’s more added pressure. And I just think, all of that together, the kids can’t handle it. They can’t take it.”
Frederick is the Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Beautiful As You Are, more commonly known as B.A.Y.A., a nonprofit organization created to give a safe place to girls who never fit in and are always looked at as different.
B.A.Y.A. also provides a safe place for girls to talk and participate in fun, interactive, self-esteem-building activities.
Frederick’s organization was birthed through her own life experiences.
“[I did it for] my daughter,” Frederick said. “So she is 22 now and she was bullied relentlessly growing up, and she was a self-harmer, and she tried to take her own life. And so everyone’s answer to me was, ‘medicate her, she’ll be fine.’ But I knew there had to be a better way.”
Frederick told WAVE News she read the CDC report and used it as inspiration to create her own survey for the members of B.A.Y.A.
She asked similar questions, and anonymously documented their responses.
Among them, ‘are you a self-harmer’ and ‘have you had thoughts of suicide, or even attempted it’.
Frederick told WAVE News, 33% of her members admitted to being a self-harmer, while 57% percent admitted to contemplating suicide.
“Fifty-seven percent said yes,” she said. “Fifty-seven percent of 208 kids said, ‘yes.’ Like, that is so alarming to me. But that’s why that CDC report didn’t shock me., because our kids are in pain and they’re in crisis. It is a mental health crisis for young people.”
The CDC report, combined with her own survey, serves as confirmation to Frederick of how necessary her work is.
They’re reasons why she continues her mission to make the next generation better, building young women up to feel as beautiful as they are.
“Broken, whole, you’re still a beautiful being and a beautiful person,” Frederick said.
To learn more information about B.A.Y.A., click here.
The B.A.Y.A. center is located on East Lewis and Clark Parkway in Clarksville, Indiana.
To reach the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, dial 988.
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