Some mental health experts have expressed concern after the Florida Department of Education pulled out of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey aimed at understanding the struggles of high school students.

What You Need To Know

  • The Florida DOE pulled out of a CDC survey that tries to understand the emotional issues of high school students

  • Local mental health professionals are worried that losing out on this data will hurt future programs

The data had been used to help understand mental wellbeing and suicidal thoughts

The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System has been used for the past 31 years. Pediatricians like Dr. Candice Jones say the survey helped identify the needs of her clients.

“The youth risk behavior survey is a trusted tool from the CDC that as a pediatrician, I look to for data,” she told Spectrum News.

The survey includes questions on mental wellbeing, suicidal thoughts and sexual orientation, among other topics.

The data collected is used to identify what students go through, and guides public policy to address those needs, Jones said.

“Confidential screening like this survey is so important because teens often won’t share if they feel that information will be used to out them,” she said.

Derrick Collins is a mental health therapist in Holly Hill. who has dedicated his life to providing therapy for at-risk youth, and serves as the program director for the Stress and Anxiety Center.

“Outside of the school community, I wanted to be a little bit more hands-on,” he said.

For the last 10 years, he’s worked with children and teens who struggle with depression, anger and substance abuse. He’s seen up close the challenges that some students are facing daily.

At his office, he provides additional resources on top of the therapy sessions. Those resources include a gym and a studio where kids can tap into their creative side or let out built-up steam.

“The boxing class allows them to have some structure and to be able to have a release," Collins said about the facility. 

With all of his experience working with at-risk youth, Collins believes any tools offering insight into what they go through are valuable, especially when it comes to behavior patterns.

“These surveys like this kind of help the teachers and the school system understand that this is where this kid is coming from, so they can help them a little bit better,” he said.

He hopes the changes don’t have a drastic impact on students moving forward. FDOE officials haven't announced if they have plans to replace the CDC-recommended survey.