While parents across Washington are breathing sighs of relief with tobacco and alcohol use on the decline, teen depression remains a big issue.
A survey led by the Department of Health reveals that 75 percent less Washington youth are using tobacco or alcohol. Researchers surveyed more than 200,000 youth in grades 6, 8, 10 and 12 in more than 1,000 Washington state public schools.
But researches also found that feelings of depression were prevalent across all grades.
The survey found the number of youth smokers has decreased across all grades to 50,000 of youth smokers in Washington state. In the 10th grade, 10 percent of students had a cigarette in the past 30 days, a decrease from 13 percent in 2010 and 25 percent in 1999. The adult smoking rate in Washington state is about 17 percent, according to the American Lung Association.
In a press release, Secretary of Health Mary Selecky said general smoking rates have been halved over the past decade, thanks to hard work of the tobacco prevention and control.
When it came to underage alcohol consumption, the survey found 115,000 youth are currently drinking, a decline from 126,000 youth in 2010.
Now for the bad news. Although teen use of tobacco and alcohol products are on the decline in Washington state, the survey found data regarding depression-related behavior to be consistent for the past decade.
Researchers found that feelings of depression were prevalent across all grades. According to the survey, 26 percent of 8th graders, 31 percent of 10th graders and 30 percent of 12th graders experienced feelings of depression that affected their daily behavior.
In 2012, 8 percent of 8th and 10th graders attempted suicide, according to the survey.
While the survey gave reason for a couple of pats on the back for government officials, parents and teachers, it reveals the need for more attention to mental health wellness.