by Stephanie Stahl
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — There are 1.6 million teenagers in Pennsylvania between the ages of 10 to 19. Their health now often sets the course for the rest of their lives.
This is the week devoted to making sure they’re headed the right way.
Middle and high school students are in the capital rotunda kicking off the second annual Teen Health Week in Harrisburg
“Behavioral health issues are particularly important for teens,” says Dr. Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania’s Physician General.
She says there are a multitude of health issues confronting teenagers.
New numbers from the College of Physicians say 40% of the teens surveyed feel sad or depressed most days. 15% considered suicide or self-harm.
And many teens struggling with mental health issues often turn to alcohol or drugs.
The opioid crisis is a growing concern, along with sexually transmitted diseases. Pennsylvania has a high rate of gonorrhea among teenagers.
“It’s important to listen to your teens, and to talk very openly about risky behavior. To talk about sex, to talk about drugs, to talk about issues like depression, about eating disorders,” Levine said.
Many teens are starting to eat better, but 25% of Pennsylvania teens are obese.
75% say they have a sugared drink daily, and 90% get no regular exercise.
“Many of the habits teens develop will carry on into adulthood. That can either be very positive in terms of nutrition, exercise, and sleep, or sometimes it can be negative habits,” said Levine.
Health experts also says violence remains an issue for many teens.
Reports of bullying go down from 80% in 6th grade to 50% senior year. Something that more parents need to address at home.