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  • Natalee Batangan

After 2020: Mental Health Issues Continue to Rise Among Teens in Kalihi

We’ve seen mental health issues like depression and anxiety rise over the past few years in teens in Kalihi. What is causing it, and what can we do?


A national report recorded a 22.9 percent change in children's mental health from 2016 to 2020 in Hawaii. We can only expect this amount to grow as children and adolescents continue to experience declining mental health rates, significantly among teens.


“During (adolescence), there are significant physical, emotional, and behavioral changes,” Rachel Hinds says, a doctoral student at Chaminade's Hawaii School of Professional Psychology. “As a result, many adolescents struggle with self-esteem and figuring out where they fit in with others.”


A behavioral specialist at Farrington High School, Melissa Mamea, also states that many of the teens in Kalihi experience issues surrounding identity and self-esteem. “Now that we’re out of lockdown and back in school, there are lots of anxiety. No one is used to talking, no one is used to being the center of attention, it’s not the same anymore.”



“I have been losing sleep, stressing, and having breakdowns over school.” Farrington High School Student

ADHD, anxiety, and depression have been recorded from 2016-2019 in children ages 3-17. ADHD, a disorder affecting attention span and behavior, is found in 6 million children. Anxiety, a disorder resulting in persistent and irrational fears, is found in 5.8 million people. Depression, a disorder characterized by mood changes, is found in 2.7 million children in the U.S.


One of the major causes contributing to rising mental health issues among children in the U.S. are feelings of loneliness and isolation. In recent years, we’ve seen this with the coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns.


Now that things are “back to normal,” a Sophomore at Farrington explains the struggle in keeping up with their school work. “I have been losing sleep, stressing, and having breakdowns over school.”


“There needs to be more open dialogue about mental health in academic settings as it is a place where youth spend a significant amount of time,” Rachel Hinds, Chaminade's Hawaii School of Professional Psychology Doctoral Candidate

Mamea believes that the lack of support systems in families contributes to the growing mental health issues among children in Kalihi. “We come from homes where our parents work day and night. We come from broken homes. We may have lots of people in a home, but no one really talks to each other.”


Hinds adds that being exposed to and experiencing substance abuse, domestic violence, sexual trauma, and socioeconomic issues makes an individual more prone to developing mental health problems, as they become more fearful and less vocal about their mental health.


“There needs to be more open dialogue about mental health in academic settings as it is a place where youth spend a significant amount of time,” Hinds says. “The youth need to be made aware of the resources that are available to them, and most importantly, be encouraged to reach out when they are struggling.”


Hinds believes that our community as a whole has the responsibility to be involved with the health of our youth with the saying “it takes a village to raise a child.” Similarly, Mamea suggests that “as long as we just start the conversation, open it up, and be kind,” our community would see a significantly bigger push toward vocalizing the mental health of our future generations.



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