New Maryland youth survey shows slight decrease in depression, substance use by high school students

26 June 2024- The Maryland Department of Health today released the results of the 2022-2023 Maryland Youth Risk Behavior Survey and Youth Tobacco Survey (YRBS/YTS). 

For the first time, the survey included questions about menthol tobacco use, discrimination based on race, and additional adverse childhood experiences, including physical neglect, physical abuse, and sexual abuse among high school students. Survey findings show a reduction in depression and suicidal behaviors in high school and middle school students and a slight decrease in substance use.

“While we see some encouraging results, the data shows a clear link between multiple adverse childhood experiences and increased risk behaviors,” said Maryland Health Secretary Dr. Laura Herrera Scott. “We are continuing to address the findings through youth-centered health programming, education and outreach to support mental health, reduce tobacco, alcohol, and drug use and protect youth from bullying and violence.”

Key Findings From the 2022-2023 Maryland YRBS/YTS Show:

  • The percentage of middle and high school students who felt sad or hopeless for at least two weeks within the past year decreased significantly in 2022 (34% and 36%, respectively) compared to 2021 (37% and 39% respectively). Girls in middle (45%) and high school (49%) were more likely than boys in middle (23%) and high school (24%) to feel sad or hopeless. 
  • The use of cigarettes (3%), smokeless tobacco (3%), e-cigarettes (14%), and alcohol (18%) among high school students remained the same as in 2021, which are the lowest numbers to date. However, there was a significant increase in reported cigar use (4%) compared to 2021 (3%). Nearly 50% of high school students who use tobacco reported using menthol tobacco products. Ninety-seven percent of those who use electronic smoking devices usually vape flavors other than tobacco flavors.
  • Fourteen percent of high school students reported using marijuana in the past 30 days, with 59% of these students reporting smoking marijuana in a joint, bong, pipe, or blunt, and 19% of these students reporting vaping marijuana.
  • Asian (62%), Hispanic/Latino (48%), and Black (46%) high school students were more likely to report feeling that they were ever poorly treated or unfairly in school because of their race or ethnicity compared to White (22%) students.
  • High school students identifying as LGBTQ+ (68%) were more likely to report sometimes, rarely, or never feeling that they could talk to an adult about their feelings, compared to their heterosexual (54%) counterparts. 

The Maryland YRBS/YTS is a CDC-sponsored survey conducted in the fall of 2022 among nearly 60,000 students in 368 public middle and high schools across the state. The surveys track behaviors that contribute to the leading causes of death, disability, and social challenges among Maryland youth. Measures include alcohol, drug, tobacco, and cannabis use, sexual behaviors, unintentional injuries and violence, poor physical activity and dietary behaviors, and positive or protective childhood experiences. 

Parents and providers can explore Mental Health and Crisis Resources for Coping with Violence

People can get free Maryland Tobacco Quitline phone, web and text message support to quit tobacco use. Youth ages 13-17 can text “VAPEFREE” to 873-373 for support to quit vaping.

Additional Resources:

  • 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: Call or text 988. Or chat online at 988lifeline.org
  • Safe Schools Maryland: Report a student or school safety concern at 1-833-MD-B-SAFE or schoolsafety.maryland.gov
  • Trevor Lifeline (LGBTQ+): Call 1-866-488-7386, text “START” to 678678 or visit thetrevorproject.org
  • SAMHSA’s National Helpline: For families facing mental or substance use disorders, call 1-800-662-HELP, text your zip code to 435748, or visit findtreatment.gov
  • Cyberbullying & Digital Safety: Visit stopbullying.gov 

The full state-level Maryland 2022-2023 YRBS/YTS results are available here.