COVID pandemic child drug use, mental health highest ranking youth concerns, survey says

65% of Chicago adults worry about child drug use during pandemic: survey

ByABC 7 Chicago Digital Team via WLS logo
Tuesday, September 14, 2021
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Drug use and mental health were among the most pressing health concerns for children in Chicago during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a Lurie Children's hospital and CDPH surv

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Drug use and mental health were among the most pressing health concerns for children in Chicago during the COVID-19 pandemic.

That's according to a survey released by Lurie Children's Hospital and the Chicago Department of Public Health at midnight Tuesday.

This is the third year of data collected through Healthy Chicago Survey Jr. citywide, and the first to reflect the perspectives of adults about youth health issues during the pandemic, according to a release by the two groups.

Almost two-thirds of parents and non-parents surveyed said they considered illicit drug use to be a "big" problem, according to the survey. Illicit drugs include but are not limited to marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, and hallucinogens.

"As children and adolescents return to their classrooms, schools will be able to see how the difficulties of the pandemic have affected students' behaviors and mental health. Schools are a key source of support for students' mental health and behavioral well-being, and educators and health professionals will play a big role in helping students get the support they need this fall," says Matthew M. Davis, MD, MAPP, Chair of the Department of Medicine at Lurie Children's, Executive Vice-President and Chief Community Health Transformation Officer at the Patrick M. Magoon Institute for Healthy Communities at Lurie Children's and Chair of Pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

The top-ranked youth health concerns identified by adults in the study were:

1) Drugs - 65%

2) Tobacco and e-cigarettes - 65%

3) Stress - 62%

4) Depression - 62%

5) Child Abuse and Neglect - 60%

6) Suicide - 57%

7) Childhood Obesity - 57%

8) Teen Pregnancy - 49%

9) Alcohol - 46%

10) Unintentional Injuries - 39%

Here is a list of numbers you can reach out to if you need help:

  • Illinois Tobacco Quitline for Smoking Cessation: toll-free 1-866-QUIT-YES
  • The Illinois Department of Public Health's list of suicide warning signs, including withdrawing from friends, family, and society and experiencing dramatic mood changes
  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255, available 24/7 toll-free for anyone facing emotional distress or experiencing a suicidal crisis
  • Child Helpline toll-free 1-800-422-4453 to report a suspected case of child abuse and neglect