Teens create first-ever local mental health survey for peers, released with help of City of San Antonio

Results will affect city, community initiatives to address teen mental health issues

SAN ANTONIO - – The first local survey of its kind about mental health issues created by teenagers for teenagers was released Tuesday for youths ages 12-19.

The questionnaire covers an array of tough topics that will help community youth leaders improve mental health care in San Antonio.

The survey was created by the teenagers in two programs -- the city’s San Antonio Youth Commission and Metro Health’s Project Worth.

“Mental health is an issue affecting a lot of people our age. It’s a chronic problem, and most of us are not getting the help we actually need,” said Michael Valdez, a teenager who is a chair of the San Antonio Youth Commission and a Project Worth Teen Ambassador.

Valdez addressed the public Tuesday at a press conference, explaining why he and his peers created a survey for other teens about the mental health issues they face.

“There’s not enough time taken to teach us social and emotional learning skills, how to maintain healthy relationships, understand the diversity of our peers or how to take care of our own mental health,” he said. “We will continue to see this same problem getting worse.”

The 27-question survey asks important questions about stress, depression, even drug use and self-harm.

“I think it’s necessary to ask the tough questions in a gentle way that doesn’t trigger so that we can get a deep understanding of the level of mental health challenges that we’re seeing,” said Melody Woosley, director of the Department of Human Services.

Woosley said the survey is completely anonymous, and every question gives teens the option to say, “I’d rather not answer that.”

They also want to hear from young people who are not in school.

“There’s a good-sized population here of what we call ‘opportunity youth,’ more of the 16 to 18-year-olds. These are students that have dropped out of school or are not connected socially. We want to hear from them or their peers on what their needs are,” Woosley said.

She said all groups involved would assess the results of the survey.

“The Youth Commission and the ambassadors, they will take the results of this and make recommendations on what initiatives or what services the community needs,” Woosley said.

She said it’s important that the teens themselves make recommendations on what they and their peers need and what would help the most.

“We can advocate for more effective ways to expand our support network and the support we want at this age -- deciding where to invest millions of dollars in our school and community resources,” Valdez said.

Woosley said the survey results would show the City of San Antonio and Metro Health if they need to tweak current programs, scrap them altogether or add new ones.

The city is helping get surveys to kids by reaching out to schools, churches, and other organizations that involve youth.

They hope other parents and family members in the community will spread the word and have teens fill out the survey.

The deadline to complete the survey is April 8, and they’re hoping to get thousands of responses.

To take the survey, click here.

About the Authors:

Courtney Friedman is a KSAT anchor and reporter. She has an ongoing series called Loving in Fear, confronting Bexar County’s domestic violence epidemic. She's also covered Hurricane Harvey, the shootings in Sutherland Springs and Santa Fe, and tornadoes throughout Texas. She’s a California native and proud Longhorn who loves calling SA home.

Before starting at KSAT in August 2011, Ken was a news photographer at KENS. Before that he was a news photographer at KVDA TV in San Antonio. Ken graduated from San Antonio College with an associate's degree in Radio, TV and Film. Ken has won a Sun Coast Emmy and four Lone Star Emmys. Ken has been in the TV industry since 1994.