WalletHub recently conducted a study to determine which states have the most at-risk youth. With 12.6% of young people out of work or school, it leaves them struggling to cope. In a recent report released by the personal-finance website, Kentucky teens are more at-risk.


There are so many life challenges thrown at teenagers today. Whether pressure to succeed, drug or alcohol abuse, violence, single-parent households, bullying, or depression. They are at higher risk for a challenging life. They are grappling with more issues than my generation ever did. I feel social media is a big reason why. Being a teenager is difficult, but social media makes it much worse. It can be unhealthy and harmful to young minds. The negative impacts add up, making them more anxious.

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Kentucky Is 2022’s 9th Most At-Risk Youth State in America

The mental health of adolescents and teenagers is more at risk today than it's ever been. Depression and anxiety are at an all-time high. Especially for teens in Kentucky. Based on this WalletHub study, Kentucky sits at the top in most at-risk categories.

WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 16 key indicators of youth risk. The data set ranges from the share of disconnected youth to the labor force participation rate among youth to the youth poverty rate.


At-Risk Youth in Kentucky

• 7th – % of Disconnected Youth
• 25th – % of Youth Without a High School Diploma
• 2nd – % of Overweight & Obese Youth
• 8th – Youth Labor Force Participation Rate
• 10th – Youth Poverty Rate
• 15th – Share of Population Aged 12 and Older Fully Vaccinated

"A key step in problem-solving is identifying why a given problem exists in the first place. Youth are disconnected from school and work for various reasons, including lack of family support, poor education, teenage parenthood, mental health, substance use, criminal history, lack of work opportunities, lack of educational options, and lack of transportation. Hence, policymakers should adopt a multifaceted approach toward alleviating disconnection among juveniles. All of the aforementioned issues (and perhaps more) must be addressed one by one to facilitate the integration/reintegration of young people in school and/or in the workforce. A common denominator for solving the problem of disconnection remains the availability of enough funding. Lawmakers must act on that front.", shared Rigaud Joseph - BSW, MSW, Ph.D. – Associate Professor of Social Work; Coordinator, Pathway Distance Education & Advanced Standing Programs, College of Social & Behavioral Sciences – California State University San Bernardino


State By State Findings

Source: WalletHub

Advice for Young People

Rigaud went on to share some helpful tips.

1. Having young people in school and the workforce simultaneously is a major step toward financial independence. It may not work for everyone since youth face different challenges in their lives. My advice for parents consists of the following:

2. Lead from behind by letting the youth decide whether to carry two hats (work and school) concurrently. Parental imposition of this form of dual enrollment (work and school) may backfire on both the present and the future of youth.

3. Understand that working while matriculated (even at the high school level) could organically lead to inter-role conflict for young people. Therefore, parents should avoid setting sky-high expectations of which youngsters may ultimately fall short. Instead, parents should educate their children about the benefits and potential drawbacks of being a working student.

4. Resist the temptation to overload working students with household tasks. The work-school-family conflict could be a bridge too far for some youth.


RiverValley Behavioral Health in Owensboro

We need to watch out for "red flags" in our teens because poor mental health can have a large impact. Watch for behavior changes in their daily lives. Luckily there are places to turn to that are ready to help.

"RiverValley Behavioral Health currently hosts over 21 Kentucky-based programs that include in-patient and out-patient services for those with mental health, developmental and intellectual disabilities (DD/ID), alcohol and drug addictions, prevention, recovery, and treatment.RiverValley Behavioral Health services are specifically developed to meet the unique, growing behavioral health needs of the communities we serve. We provide services in the following counties: Daviess, Henderson, Ohio, Union, McLean, Hancock, and Webster."

"RiverValley offers a wide variety of services for individuals and families experiencing behavioral health challenges. We are here to encourage and support you.

To schedule an appointment with a therapist, please call 270-689-6690 or 1-800-769-4920 for TDD/Hearing Impaired.

If you are in crisis and this is a non-medical emergency, please call or text our Crisis Line at 800-433-7291."

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