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MENTAL HEALTh

Social and emotional wellness is central to the ability to live a full and productive life and is closely linked to physical health. Large disparities exist between the mental health of boys and girls, as well as between LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ youth. 

Content Warning: This page contains references to suicide.

Social isolation

Social connection is essential to our health. It reduces the risk of premature mortality and is deeply connected to physical and mental health. Educational and economic achievement, and even community crime and violence, are affected by levels of social connection. Humans are wired for social connection, but we’ve become more isolated over time, making this a critical focus nationally.

How often is each of the following kinds of support available to you if you need it?

Those who responded 'most of the time.'

Source: 2023 SLO County Community Health Survey. Those who responded 'most of the time' to 'People sometimes look to others for companionship, assistance, and other types of support. How often is each of the following kinds of support available to you if you need it?'

"I'm in a typical residential neighborhood but it is still very isolating; everyone keeps to themselves."

 

- SLO County resident

LEVELS OF SCHOOL CONNECTEDNESS

Of students surveyed in 2019-2021, 52% of 11th grade students in SLO County reported feeling connected at school, a slight decrease from earlier years. 

 

This percentage includes the average percent of respondents reporting 'strongly agree' or 'agree' to the statements: "I feel close to people at this school. I am happy to be at this school. I feel like I am part of this school. The teachers at this school treat students fairly. I feel safe in my school."

Source: California Healthy Kids Survey (CHKS). California Dept. of Education. Accessed at calschls.org.
Mental Health Disorders

Mental health disorders are on the rise, affecting as many as one in five U.S. children and youth each year. The majority of young people who need mental health treatment do not receive it, placing them at increased risk for negative outcomes throughout their lifetimes.

 

Talking openly and directly can be the best way to identify if someone is in need of help. Support is also available locally.

Sad or Hopeless Feelings, 11th Graders, Over Time (%)

Of students surveyed in 2019-2021, 38% of 11th grade students in SLO County reported “persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness,” up from 29% in 2011-2013 — an increase seen in national trends as well.

Source: California Healthy Kids Survey (CHKS). California Dept. of Education. Pulled from calschls.org

Sad or Hopeless Feelings, 11th Graders IN SLO County, By Group (%)

Of students surveyed, both female students and LGBTQ+ students were more likely to report sad or hopeless feelings. SLO County's Community Counseling Center shares what this means for the health of LGBTQ+ students in our community.

38%

of 11th grade students in SLO County reported chronic sad or hopeless feelings in past 12 months
by gender
by sexual orientation

Source: California Healthy Kids Survey (CHKS). California Dept. of Education. Pulled from calschls.org. 

ANxiety

Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental illnesses in the U.S., affecting 19% of the population ages 18 and older. Anxiety disorders can stem from a variety of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality and life events. They can range from generalized anxiety to obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Of SLO County residents surveyed in 2023, 21% of respondents answered 'daily' to 'How often do you feel worried, nervous or anxious?', with responses higher among those under the age of 65 (25%), LGBTQ+ respondents (30%) and those making less than $50K household income (33%).

21%

of SLO County residents responded 'daily' to 'How often do you feel worried, nervous or anxious?'
Sources of Stress

In 2023, SLO County Community Health Survey respondents cited 'Finding or keeping affordable housing' (27%) and 'Getting paid enough to meet my basic needs' (26%) as the challenges they worried about 'often'.

How often do you worry about the challenges below?

"Lack of affordable housing. Stressing and working on that leaves little room for health."

 

- SLO County resident

Rated mental health 'Very Good' or 'excellent'

In 2023, 47% of SLO County Community Health Survey respondents responded that their mental health was 'very good' or 'excellent'. Several groups were less likely to rate their mental health as 'very good' or 'excellent', including those under the age of 65 (40%), Spanish-speakers (30%), LGBTQ respondents (31%), and those making less than $50K in household income (25%).

47%

of SLO County residents responded that their mental health was 'very good' or 'excellent'
Suicide

Suicide continues to be a leading cause of death across the United States, the state of California and SLO County. Suicide risk is higher for veterans and the LGBTQ+ community.

 

The average age-adjusted rate of deaths due to suicide in SLO County was 16 deaths per 100,000 people in 2019-2021. While the county’s overall suicide rate has varied, it has been consistently higher than California’s.

16

age-adjusted death rate (per 100,000 people) from suicide in SLO County
10

age-adjusted d
eath rate (per 100,000 people) from suicide in CA
Deaths due to SUICIDE (age adjusted rate)
Source: CA Department of Public Health.  County Health Status Profiles. Accessed June 2023.  Data is provided as a 3-year average.
SUICIDE Deaths by Group, 2019-2021 (crude rate per 100,000)
by gender
by age

Source: Department correspondence with CA Department of Public Health. Data is provided as a 3-year average and shown as a crude death rate per 100,000 population. Rates are based on counts less than 10 are excluded from this chart. More data available here.

Self-Harm Emergency Department (ED) Visits, 2019-2021 (crude rate per 100,000)
99

Self-harm emergency department visits (per 100,000 people) in SLO County
83

Self-harm emergency department visits
 (per 100,000 people) in CA
Self-Harm Emergency Department (ED) Visits, by Group, 2019-2021 (crude rate per 100,000)
by gender
by age

Source: Department correspondence with CA Department of Public Health. Data is provided as a 3-year average and shown as a crude rate per 100,000 population. Rates are based on counts less than 10 are excluded from this chart.

Considered suicide, 11th Graders, Over Time (%)

Suicide rates among youth (ages 15-24) have risen over the past decades; however, state and local data show SLO County's rates are lower than the national average. Suicide ideation, however, is still high, particularly among certain groups. 

Of students surveyed in 2019-2021, 16% of 11th grade students in SLO County reported considering suicide in the last 12 months.

16%

of 11th grade students surveyed in SLO County reported considering suicide
16%

of 11th grade students surveyed in CA reported considering suicide

Source: California Healthy Kids Survey (CHKS). California Dept. of Education. Pulled from calschls.org

Considered suicide, 11th Graders, By Group (%)

Of students surveyed, both female students and LGBTQ+ students were more likely to report considering suicide over the past 12 months, with LGBTQ+ students at over 3x the rate of their non-LGBTQ+ peers.

16%

of 11th grade students in SLO County reported considering suicide
by gender
by sexual orientation
Source: California Healthy Kids Survey (CHKS). California Dept. of Education. Pulled from calschls.org.

If you or someone you know is struggling, please reach out to the Central Coast Hotline at 1-800-783-0607 or the National Suicide Hotline at 988. To access SLO Behavioral Health services, call 1-800-838-1381. You can also visit www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org to find out information about getting help.

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