New Survey: NYC Teens Weigh In on Top Priorities for Incoming NYC Mayor, Cite Youth Mental Health, Education as Key Issues

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June 9, 2021

First Of Its Kind Youth-Led Survey from Citizens’ Committee for Children Reveals Top Policy Priorities from Teens in All Five Boroughs in COVID-19 Aftermath

35% of Youth Report Needing Mental Health Services; Only 42% Reported Receiving These Services 

New York, NY – The Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York (CCC) released a new interactive tool analyzing the results of a youth-led first of its kind survey of nearly 1,400 NYC teens (ages 14 to 24) from across the five boroughs on their top policy priorities as the City finalizes its largest budget in history and New York’s mayoral primary draws to a close. 

The results of the survey conducted in partnership between YouthAction teens and CCC’s data team reveal insights into the experiences of young New Yorkers in the aftermath of COVID-19. Key findings include:

  • More than a third (35%) of youth report wanting or needing mental health services from a professional, particularly youth in the Bronx 
  • Among youth who want/need mental health services only 42% reported receiving these services 
  • When asked about resources that they use or need, more than half of youth respondents cited educational, mental health, and non-cash (housing, health care, food) resources
  • Less than 50% of youth report receiving extracurricular support for academics and tutoring or career, internship, and job opportunities

“Like many teens in the city, I worked 40 hour weeks at McDonalds while taking classes full time throughout the pandemic to help support my family after financial loss,” said 17 year old Edward Sanchez of Brooklyn. “No young person should have to carry that weight on their back. With this survey, we want to ensure our voices are heard by the time schools reopen next Fall. Are we going to have resources? Are we going to have extracurricular activities and be allowed to be teens? Our health and well-being hang in the balance.” 

“The pandemic left me frustrated with the lack of behavioral health resources provided by my public school. As someone who has struggled to access mental health care, I hope that these survey results showcase the need to invest in behavioral health services for all youth across New York City. The next mayor has to make a real investment in the programs and resources essential to helping New York’s young people become the best version of themselves,” said 19-year-old Tuli Hannan of Queens. 

“At the end of the day, we are New York City’s future. I want to study physics so I can become a Forensics ballistic expert. The reason I care about youth issues and about advocacy is that we are the gateway to a better tomorrow. I feel as though we need to be heard more,” said 17-year-old Pharell Kendall of Harlem. 

Visit the Google Data Studio on CCC’s website to learn more about these results and explore data from the survey. You can also learn more about CCC’s YouthAction program for New York City high school students here.

“The results are sobering, shedding light on key issues facing New York’s young people that have only been exacerbated by the pandemic, such as an underfunded child and adolescent behavioral health system, widespread housing insecurity, educational inequity and long-standing economic disparities,” said Jennifer March, Executive Director of Citizens’ Committee for Children. “The young people said it themselves: they are experiencing more mental health challenges and greater financial insecurity than ever before in the wake of the pandemic, and the need for high-quality, accessible mental health resources, housing, economic and educational supports has never been greater. I urge New York’s current and future leaders to carefully consider the needs and priorities of New York’s children and teens. Ultimately, the success of their future will be the success of our city.”

The results come on the heels of CCC’s “Child & Family Well-Being in New York City: Ranking Risks and Understanding COVID-19 Impacts Across 59 Community Districts,” an analysis of the barriers to well-being children and families face in the aftermath of COVID-19. The report breaks down how and why the pandemic has disproportionately devastated communities of color, noting higher rates of child poverty, overcrowded housing, lack of access to health care, and widening education gaps, and includes a policy roadmap to uproot long-standing inequalities and help families recover from the devastation of COVID-19. 



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