augusta free press news

Mental health screenings for area youth up during COVID-19 pandemic

mental health
(© dizain –

Mental health screenings are up 250 percent over the last year in the Greater Augusta region with a rising number of youth reaching out for mental health resources and connections.

Mental Health America of Augusta provided almost 550 online mental health screenings in 2020 through its website,

Data for those who completed the screenings showed:

  • 65 percent are 11-24 years of age
  • 23 percent are minorities
  • 67 percebt are low income
  • 56.37 percent tested for anxiety or depression
  • 49.22 percent percent testing moderately to severely anxious or depressed

“Mental Health America of Augusta is glad to provide resources to the community, especially in these difficult times,” said Bruce Blair, executive director of the Staunton-based non-profit affiliate. “It is our goal to help people of all ages who are struggling take the first step in building healthier lives.”

According to a recent New York Times article, youth suicide rates have been on the rise for a decade, with suicide being the second-leading cause of death for youth and young adults. According to a CDC study released last year, there has also been a steady rise in the percentage of high-school students who say they have felt persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness, as well as in those who planned or tried suicide.

With closures related to COVID-19 in schools and other impacts related to the pandemic, our youth appear to be struggling with mental health more than ever before.

National data on suicides in 2020 have not yet to be compiled. However, one study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that the percentage of youth emergency room visits for mental health reasons has increased during the pandemic.

“The first step for someone who is struggling with mental help is to get support,” said Blair. “Our organization is relieved that we can provide depression, anxiety and youth-specific screenings to help put those who struggle on a path to recovery.”

To take a screen, visit

If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255 or visit

augusta free press
augusta free press