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The Kids Are NOT Alright

Issue 25

What Statewide Data is Telling Us About Youth

When we start a new year, we often take “inventory” – look to make improvements like changing our habits, improving our health, bettering our mindset, etc. One thing we should ALL do is focus on improving our interactions with young people in our communities.

Data from the Maine Integrated Youth Health Sur vey (MIYHS) is very helpful in shedding light on youth behavior and perceptions. It covers topics ranging from nutrition to mental health to substance use. MIYHS is a biennial survey of students in grades 5 to 12. There were a few key findings from the 2021 MIYHS (statewide data) that are alarming. It’s important to note that these data points are higher for folks who identify as part of minority groups (race, gender, sexuality).


1 out of 5 Middle School Students had seriously considered committing suicide
1 out of 5 High School Students had seriously considered committing suicide

30% of Middle School Students felt sad or hopeless every day for 2 weeks in a row in the last year

36% of High School Students felt sad or hopeless every day for 2 weeks in a row in the last year

Only about half of students FELT THEY MATTERED to their community

55% of Middle School Students felt like they mattered to people in their community

52% of High School Students felt they mattered to people in their community



Talk with youth every day, asking open-ended questions. Be curious about their interests. Check-in and help build connection to peers, school, and the community-at-large.


Adults, especially parents/caregivers, are very important figures in a young person’s life. Make sure you set rules, disapprove of substance use, and provide reasonable consequences.


Build trust and be reliable source of information. You can share your own experiences.


Limit access to drugs and alcohol to keep youth safe. This includes prescription medications.


Educate yourself on mental health red-flag signs. Get help for youth who may be experiencing suicidal ideation or high-risk substance use.


Make home, school, and community spaces welcoming and judgment-free zones for youth.

Janet Dosseva
Janet Dosseva
Janet loves implementing creative and innovative ways to engage communities in prevention and harm reduction strategies. She focuses on promoting health equity and amplifying youth voices. Janet really enjoys working in the Westbrook community, where so many people are committed to supporting youth through collaborative efforts to prevent and reduce youth substance use rates. She is also a member of the NAMI Maine Board of Directors, the Cumberland County District Public Health Council, Maine Public Health Association, Maine Prevention Certification Board, Westbrook-Gorham Rotary Club, and various Maine CDC substance use workgroups. Janet enjoys cooking, traveling, collecting new household plants, going to concerts, and playing and coaching tennis in her free time.

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