Colorado Leads Nation in Depressed Teens

March 7 2008, 4:25 PM

Usually when I read an article comparing Colorado to other states, there's a positive note: One of our cities has been ranked among the best or most affordable places to live, our citizens are among the most fit and active in the country, etc. Not today. A new study has been released showing that Colorado leads the country in the number of depressed teenagers. Among the findings:

Colorado ranked first in the nation in adolescents 12 to 17 who reported having at least one major depressive episode in the previous year. Almost 10 percent of the Colorado youths reported having such an episode, defined as a period of at least two weeks in which they had most of the signs of clinical depression. ....Colorado adolescents, 12 to 17, rank fourth in alcohol dependence and sixth in dependence on or abuse of illegal drugs.

What could be causing this?

Susie Street, vice president of community services for the advocacy group Mental Health America of Colorado, said, "We are close to the bottom in terms of funding in mental health. ....The latest statistics show Colorado eighth in the nation in suicide and second lowest in the nation in the amount of tax money per capita spent on substance abuse treatment.

Is there a better argument for Colorado to increase funds for substance abuse treatment? I don't think so. It's pretty clear that the future of the next generation may depend on it.

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