The Youth Community Survey was an anonymous survey deployed in 2021 to youths in Montcalm and Ionia Counties. Needs Assessments help obtain a true picture of what is really happening with a voice of those that are being most impacted. Youth ages 10-24 years of age are one of the most underserved populations in our community. The 1,866 survey respondents (461 middle school, 1,311 high school, and 94 older youth) helped provide insight to the need.
As the pandemic continues, youth needs are not being met. Mental health is the top indicated concern by local youths. Whether it was identified as a top health concern or based on different stressors experienced this data is shown across all age groups. Even though the conversation of growing awareness and access to mental health resources is on the rise, but fewer than 40% of those with a mental illness receive treatment. A majority of the respondents reported that they do not know what is available or how to access local resources such as mental health organizations and other supportive programs.
Toxic Stress is defined as living in chronically stressful situations such as having food, housing, or other basic survival insecurities. Adverse situations can impede on a person's ability to perform well in school, work, and daily life.
Living in substandard housing can pose health risks to both children and adults, in-turn raising health care costs and continuing the cycle of poverty.
Economically disadvantaged students perform lower on test scores and have high school graduation rates below the national average, this leads to less community engagement and being unable to lift themselves out of poverty.
This data illustrates the need of local youth, through the lens of their own voices. With identified areas of concern, the community is able to build shared understanding, and create widespread support towards solutions to address the unmet needs.
1,866 YOUTH RESPONDENTS AGES 10-24 IN MONTCALM AND IONIA COUNTIES
Who do you live with?
75% two parent household
15% single parent household
10% no parent household
What can adults do to make you feel supported?
“I regularly feel invisible, and I wish my teachers saw me.”
-Greenville Student, 16
“Be accepting and supportive of all students, teachers are my only role models.”
-Central Montcalm Student, 15
“Understand that there is a lot going at home, and I can’t always focus.”
-Ionia Student, 16
“Encourage me to be my best self.”
–Vestaburg Student, 11
Do you help care for anyone at home?
638 one individual
150 two or more individuals
One third of our youth respondents live in insecure housing.