Minnesota students show signs of mental health stress in first state survey since pandemic – Twin Cities

A triennial survey of Minnesota students is sparking alarm at the Minnesota Department of Health after a growing number of students expressed having serious thoughts of suicide and have long-term mental health problems in 2022.

The Minnesota Student Survey is a voluntary survey of more than 135,000 fifth, eighth, ninth, and eleventh graders conducted every third year from January through June. The results, which cover a variety of issues such as school climate, bullying, drug use and more, provide a picture of the country’s student well-being and provide a framework for how it can be improved.

In what the DOH called an alarming trend, the 2022 survey found that 28% of eleventh graders said they had seriously considered suicide at some point in their lives, up from 24% in 2019 and 23% in 2016.

Those numbers are even higher for 11th grade students who identify as LGBTQ+, as the results showed that students in this group are three times more likely than their straight peers to report considering suicide and four times more likely to attempt suicide.

Also increasing is the number of students who report suffering from long-term mental health problems. Nearly 30% of all students surveyed had struggled with their mental health for six months or more, a 66.6% increase from the 2016 survey.

The group most likely to struggle with long-term mental health problems were 11th grade girls, of whom 45% identified as affected, up from 27% in 2016. Only 20% of 11th grade boys reported struggling with long-term mental health problems.

“These findings point to the ongoing trends, fueled and worsened by the pandemic, of our teens reporting long-term mental health problems,” Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said. “It will take more research to understand how all factors work together, but it is clear that this is a crisis, and Minnesotans, legislators and families need to focus resources and attention inside and outside of schools to help our children and their families to provide the connections, support, stable environments and opportunities they need to feel comfortable in their lives and futures.”

Healthier behaviors have also been reported

While the MDH recognizes that an increase in mental health problems correlates with a student’s likelihood of engaging in unhealthy behavior, Minnesota students are actually improving how they engage with sex, drugs, alcohol, and commercial tobacco.

Cigarette consumption at all grade levels has decreased by 90% since 2001, with only 2% of all students surveyed reporting smoking. Although e-cigarette use among high school juniors skyrocketed to 26% in the 2019 survey, that number has fallen to 14% this year. Usage among eighth graders also fell by 45% over the past three years. The use of marijuana and alcohol among 11th graders has also decreased by an average of 25.5%.

“The Minnesota Student Survey continues to provide important data on how students are doing and where we need to focus our efforts to support them,” said Heather Mueller, Minnesota Commissioner of Education. “This year’s survey paints a clear picture of the ongoing need to support students’ mental and behavioral health. The Department of Education is dedicated to working with other educators, agencies and our school communities to better meet the educational, mental and behavioral health needs of our students so they can thrive in school and beyond.”

Other key findings from the survey:


Only 60% of Minnesota students surveyed said they were in excellent or very good health, compared to 65% in 2019 and 69% in the 2016 survey.

General health deteriorated and was worse in female students.

A significant increase in energy drink consumption was recorded among female students in particular.

Fruit and vegetable consumption decreased among female students.

Girls skipped lunch more often than boys.

The students didn’t get enough sleep, especially the female students.


83% of students say they feel safe at home, at school, in their neighborhoods and on their way to and from school, compared to 87% in 2019 and 90% in 2016.

21% of students surveyed said they had been bullied or harassed in at least one way a week for the past 30 days. About 40% of economically disadvantaged students and 31% of LGBQ+ students reported higher rates of bullying.

From 2019 to 2022, weekly bullying increased for students in all grade levels.

— Fifth grade: increase from 21% to 23%

— Eighth grade: increase from 21% to 23%

— Ninth grade: increase from 18% to 19%

— 11th grade: increase from 14% to 17%

Cyberbullying increased in lower grades from 2019 to 2022.

— Fifth grade: increase from 18% to 24%

— Eighth grade: increase from 15% to 17%

— Ninth grade: increase from 14% to 15%

— 11th grade: stayed the same at 12%


Educational engagement continues to decline among all students surveyed. It dropped from 75% in 2013 to 60% in 2022 for 11th graders. This measure is based on six questions related to how they behave in school, whether they pay attention in class, come prepared to class, try to learn things that interest them, think what they learn in school , are useful, and whether they are A student is an important part of who they are.

Female students are more likely to miss school than male students because they feel very sad, hopeless, anxious, stressed, or angry. Among ninth graders, 23% of girls versus 7% of boys have missed school for these reasons.

Students of all grade levels agreed that the teachers at their school care about the students.

Compared to 2019:

Fifth grade: stayed the same at 95%

Eighth grade: stayed the same at 86%

9th grade: unchanged at 86%

11th grade: slightly increased from 87% to 88%

The feeling of appreciation and appreciation of the students decreased in 2022 compared to 2019 for all grades surveyed.

Fifth grade: reduced from 72% to 67%

Eighth Tier: reduced to 58% to 65%

Ninth grade: reduced to 55% to 63%

11th grade: reduced from 61% to 55%

If you or a student you know needs free and confidential assistance, call the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. Additionally, Minnesota’s suicide prevention and mental health crisis SMS services are now available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. People who send SMS 741741 will be connected to the crisis text line.


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