Larimer County’s Healthy Kids Colorado Survey Results Reveal Positive Trends in Youth Safety, Mental Health, and Well-Being 

Larimer County, CO – The Larimer County Department of Health and Environment (LCDHE) is sharing good news from the latest Healthy Kids Colorado Survey. The survey results show improvements in youth safety, mental health, and overall well-being. This comprehensive survey, which gathers data from students across the state, showcases the progress in fostering a supportive and healthy environment for young residents.

Key Findings:

Youth Safety: In Larimer County, an overwhelming number of students (96.5%) reported feeling safe in their neighborhoods and 94.7% felt safe at school. This is a testament to the efforts of school districts and local organizations in creating secure and welcoming environments for all youth. This sense of safety is fundamental to youth well-being and development.

Support Systems: More students in Larimer County schools have adults and parents they can turn to when facing issues or problems. This robust support system is crucial for helping young people navigate challenges and build resilience. Students reported a strong sense of belonging (74.2% in 2023 vs. 64.7% in 2021) at school and active participation in school activities. Many are making future plans for life after graduation, reflecting a forward-thinking mindset and the support they receive in planning their futures.

Mental Health and Suicide: There are promising signs of mental health improvements among students. Many report lower stress levels and a higher willingness than the state average to reach out to adults or support services for help. This positive cultural shift is evident in Larimer County schools. Additionally, the percentage of students seriously considering suicide has dropped 40% since 2021. However, LGBTQ+ students are still more likely to experience poor mental health and have suicidal thoughts compared to their straight or cisgender peers. While suicide deaths remain a challenge, youth suicide rates in Larimer County and Colorado are lower than a few years ago, and the county has made significant progress in suicide prevention.

“Here in Thompson School District, our staff is dedicated to providing an excellent education for each student, as well as the critical support that they need to be successful,” said Superintendent Dr. Marc Schaffer, “We look forward to our continued collaboration with local officials, partners and leaders as we all work together to foster and maintain a healthy and supportive environment for all children throughout our community.”

Areas Needing Attention:

Gun Safety: 1 in 4 Larimer students surveyed reported they would be able to get a loaded gun without adult permission in or around their home, from a friend or schoolmate, or from a family member. This underscores the importance of continued efforts to educate families about gun safety and secure storage practices.

Prescription Medication Misuse: There has been almost a 50% drop in the proportion of students who have ever used prescription pain medicine without a prescription or not as directed by a doctor. However, there remain disparities in prescription medication misuse risk, and LGBTQ+ and Latino youth are more likely to report ever having used pain medication without a prescription when compared with other student peer groups.

Vaping: Vaping rates continue to drop among students, and perceptions of vaping as harmful have increased. However, exposure to vaping advertisements that normalize their use remains a concern for public health. Continued efforts are needed to counteract this exposure and reinforce the risks associated with vaping.

“The Healthy Kids Colorado Survey results are a testament to the hard work and dedication of our community, schools, and families in supporting our youth. While there are areas that require ongoing attention, the overall trends point to a brighter, healthier future for our students. Together, we can continue to build a safe, supportive, and thriving environment for all young people,” says Tom Gonzales, Larimer County Public Health Director.

The Healthy Kids Colorado Survey is administered every two years by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) in collaboration with the Colorado Department of Education and other state and community partners. It collects anonymous, self-reported data from middle and high school students, providing valuable insights into their health, well-being, and challenges.

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