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Girls and young women in Wisconsin are reporting troubling rates of poor mental health impacting their lives.

The feelings of anxiety, sadness, hopelessness, depression and stress all account for the state of their poor mental health.

In addition, these feelings worsen for girls and young women who are of color and those who live in under-resourced communities.

Girls’ vs. boys’ experiences

Per the Office of Children’s Mental Health (OCMH), nearly half of Wisconsin’s female high school students report feeling sad and hopeless nearly every day.

children depression, mental health

This is twice the rate of boys.

25% of Wisconsin girls have considered suicide, 20% have made a plan, and 11% have attempted suicide.

Again, all twice the rate compared to boys.

Native American and Black girls in Wisconsin are much more likely to self-harm than girls of other backgrounds as well.

National problem

The state of girls’ mental health is not unique to Wisconsin as nationally, nearly 60% of teen girls report depression, which is a dramatic increase from ten years ago, per OCMH.

Researchers determined a number of stressors are driving this decline in mental health including: academic demands, early puberty, early sexualization, body image, bullying, discrimination, as well as societal stressors such as gun violence, climate change, and political divisiveness.

Wellness strategies aim to improve mental health

“Fortunately, there are a number of strategies to increase girls’ protective factors and reduce the broader social risk factors,” said Linda Hall, director of the OCMH.

Wellness strategies foster healthy coping skills and positive friendships. By embracing wellness strategies and working them into everyday life, this can help youth manage stress and nurture resilience.

“Surrounding Wisconsin children with evidence-based wellness strategies – in their homes and in their schools – is one of the best pathways to preventing further mental health declines. With the vast majority of teen girls reporting poor mental health, the time to act is now,” said Hall.

How to make a difference

Strategies are highlighted in the new OCMH fact sheet on girls’ mental health and include the following:


  • Advocate for peer-led wellness groups in your school.
  • Commit to healthy habits that improve mental health: get sufficient sleep and exercise, spend time outside and eat meals with your family.
  • Build positive relationships. Healthy friendships protect your mental health and help build resilience to overcome life’s challenges.

Parents and caregivers

  • Consistently check in with your child about how they’re feeling and managing stress.
  • Encourage reducing screen time, especially at night, and model healthy tech habits.
  • Know the signs of kids in mental distress.


  • Implement universal mental health screening of all students.
  • Create inclusive spaces that help foster connectedness among students, helping them to build positive relationships with peers.
  • Teach mental health literacy and digital literacy, with a focus on bullying and cyberbullying.

Fact sheet

More information can be obtained online through the fact sheet.

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