New Survey Reveals Nearly Half of U.S. Teens are Concerned About Anxiety in Returning to Regular Activities Post-Pandemic

Morgan Stanley Alliance for Children’s Mental Health introduces new multi-faceted re-emergence program to provide support and resources for families and educators to address key mental health issues for the upcoming school year.

New York — August 11, 2021— As COVID restrictions lift, nearly half (48%) of U.S. teens are concerned about experiencing social anxiety in transitioning back to normal life post-pandemic, according to a new survey released today by the Morgan Stanley Alliance for Children’s Mental Health (the “Alliance”). The survey polled a nationally representative group of 516 U.S. teens ages 15-19 to gather insights regarding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health.

Following a full year of remote learning and disruption of daily life, 47% of teens express concern about falling behind in school and 43% report they are concerned about mental health challenges as a result of the pandemic. Additionally, as much as one-third of teens are anxious about returning to in-person learning.

With this data, the Alliance – a collaboration between Morgan Stanley, its Foundation and leading nonprofit members including the Child Mind Institute, The Jed Foundation, the Steve Fund, NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, and the Columbia University Department of Psychiatry – created and launched the Reemergence program, which will provide support and resources for families and educators addressing children’s mental health issues leading up to the 2021-2022 school year. This multi-faceted program aims to help teens re-engage with school and their daily activities. Key components of the program include parent and educator tip sheets, comprehensive digital resources, webinars, and a convening for educators and school administrators. The program will expand throughout the school year, as the Alliance gains a better understanding of re-emergence issues and needs and continues to deliver school and community-based programs.

Despite the issues facing teens, 42% have increased the number of conversations with others about mental health. Two thirds of U.S. teens feel hopeful they will adapt and rebound from the pandemic, the survey found.

Moreover, the survey showcases the ways in which the pandemic has especially impacted Black and Hispanic teens’ mental health. Key findings include:

  • 64% of Black teens and 52% of Hispanic teens (vs 44% white teens) express concern about experiencing social anxiety post-pandemic.
  • 52% of Black teens and 38% of Hispanic teens (vs 27% white teens) are concerned about coping with trauma.
  • Black teens (22%) are twice as likely than white teens (11%) to say that they do not feel comfortable speaking to anyone about their mental health.

“These findings reaffirm the importance of the work the Alliance does to prioritize children’s mental health today – especially in underserved communities,” said Joan Steinberg, President of the Morgan Stanley Foundation, and CEO of the Morgan Stanley Alliance for Children’s Mental Health’s Advisory Board. “While the worst of the pandemic is hopefully over, it is clear that new issues are arising, particularly the mental well-being of young people. With the Alliance re-emergence program, we will do everything we can to provide support and resources for families and educators during this crucial time.”

The survey reveals additional insight into the following areas:

  • Mental Health Resources: 33% of teens say they have access to mental health resources but do not utilize them, while 22% do not have access to these resources at all. Teens from lower-income families are more likely to have no access to mental health resources.
  • Counseling & Therapy: Teens who say that their mental health improved during the pandemic are more likely to say that they regularly use services like in-person counseling (23%) and online therapy (24%), compared with those who say their mental health stayed the same (6% in-person counseling, 4% online therapy) or worsened (16% in-person counseling, 12% online therapy).
  • Experiences Differing by Age and Gender: Older teens ages 18 and 19 are more likely to say they have experienced feelings of general anxiety, depression, and social anxiety during the pandemic. Specifically, 54% of 18-year-olds and 51% of 19-year-olds surveyed say they felt feelings of depression since the start of the pandemic. Further, 62% of 18-year olds and 55% of 19-year olds express concern about experiencing social anxiety post pandemic. There are also gender differences, with 44% of girls self-reporting feeling that their mental health has worsened, and 29% of boys self-reporting feeling the same.

Click here for more detailed survey findings.

*Morgan Stanley commissioned research firm YouGov to survey 516 nationally representative U.S. teens ages 15-19 online from June 10-16, 2021.

About Morgan Stanley

Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) is a leading global financial services firm providing investment banking, securities, wealth management, and investment management services. With offices in more than 41 countries, the Firm’s employees serve clients worldwide including corporations, governments, institutions, and individuals. For more information about Morgan Stanley, please visit www.morganstanley.com.

About Morgan Stanley Alliance for Children’s Mental Health

The Morgan Stanley Alliance for Children’s Mental Health brings together key leaders in the children’s mental health space and combines the resources and reach of Morgan Stanley and its Foundation with the knowledge and experience of its distinguished nonprofit partner organizations. The Alliance helps strategically address children’s mental health concerns and the far-reaching challenges of stress, anxiety and depression. For more information about the Alliance, visit www.morganstanley.com/mentalhealthalliance.


About The Jed Foundation (JED)

JED is a nonprofit that protects emotional health and prevents suicide for our nation’s teens and young adults. We’re partnering with high schools and colleges to strengthen their mental health, substance misuse, and suicide prevention programs and systems. We’re equipping teens and young adults with the skills and knowledge to help themselves and each other. We’re encouraging community awareness, understanding, and action for young adult mental health.

Learn more at jedfoundation.org. Check out our programs including: JED Campus (jedcampus.org), Set to Go, ULifeline (ulifeline.org), Half of Us (halfofus.com), Love is Louder (loveislouder.com), and Seize the Awkward (seizetheawkward.org).

Connect with JED:  EmailTwitter | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube | LinkedIn

Manuela McDonough
Director, Public Relations

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