01/03/2024

Estimated reading time: 4-5 minutes

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SOUTH JORDAN Aubri Jensen is passionate about dance, football and dinosaurs.

“I love dinosaurs. Oh my god!” she enthused.

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Aubri Jensen, 16, is a student at Bingham High School. She plays soccer for the miners and dances for a local studio.

At first glance, you’d never know she lives with anxiety and depression, but it’s something she and her family have been working on together since she was about 10 years old.

“It definitely feels very heavy, like you have to wear a weighted blanket all the time, wherever you go,” Aubri said describing the physical burden of sadness it often carries.

“I get tired of doing things because my brain tells me, ‘No, you can’t do that.’ And then it’s like a bunch of Legos stacked on top of each other that are really heavy,” she added.

“There was a big drop in energy for her, a drop in motivation,” Aubri’s mother Tina Jensen said, reflecting on the early signs of depression. “You could feel the unhappiness.”

For several years, Tina Jensen has helped her daughter manage emotions with the help of mental health professionals, therapy, and medication. But now, the two are dealing with a teen crisis they never expected.

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“I’ve had a couple of friends who have killed themselves in the last two, three years because of their mental health, and I know that has taken a toll on a bunch of my other friends with their mental health and mine,” she said. said Aubri.

According to new trends data from the CDC’s Youth Risk Survey collected in 2021, adolescent girls are experiencing the highest levels of sadness and despair ever reported to YRBS.

Data, collected from more than 17,000 school-age adolescents (grades 9 through 12) in 152 public schools nationwide, revealed that more than 1 in 4 girls reported having seriously considered attempting suicide in 2021, with a an 11% increase from 2011. More than 1 in 10 girls reported having attempted suicide in 2021, a 3% increase from 2011.


We want to help you know that these deep feelings are a strength and are not something you should be embarrassed about, and you don’t have to hurt yourself or hurt other people or push people away. You can feel these strong feelings safely.

– Dr. Kristin Francis, Huntsman Mental Health Institute


“Since the pandemic, we have seen a dramatic increase in the amount of young people seeking psychiatric care, especially young women seeking care for suicidal thoughts, self-harm behavior, persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety,” said Dr. Kristin Francis , psychiatrist. at the Huntsman Mental Health Institute.

Frances said the isolation experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic ties directly into survey statistics that teenage girls are experiencing today.

“We know that school was disrupted, sports were disrupted, normal day-to-day life was disrupted, people were as stressed as they’ve ever been,” Francis said. “Parents have lost their jobs. People have died. Huge, huge changes, and these changes happened during a very important part of a young person’s development, and so we just think it’s been very difficult for young people.”

As an expert on adolescent mental health, Frances said her biggest concern for teenage girls is secrecy. She said that now more than ever, teenage girls need a safe space to share their feelings.

“We want to help you know that these deep feelings are a strength and are not something you should be embarrassed about, and you don’t have to hurt yourself or hurt other people or push people away. You can have these strong feelings safely,” Francis said. And later on, you’ll learn that’s basically your superpower, you’re an empath, you can help people, it makes you a great help.”

Teenager Aubri Jensen says she has been using strategies to cope with stress.  Teenage girls are facing higher levels of sadness and despair than ever before.  It's a trend affecting Utah doctors and many Utah families.
Teenager Aubri Jensen says she has been using strategies to cope with stress. Teenage girls are facing higher levels of sadness and despair than ever before. It’s a trend affecting Utah doctors and many Utah families. (Photo: Tanner Siegworth, KSL-TV)

By being open with her mother about feeling anxious and depressed, Aubri Jensen learned the tools to manage her emotions. She colors when she’s sad and her therapist has given her sensory bracelets for those stressful moments at school. She also stays active, letting friends and coaches know when she’s having a tough day.

“When I go to training for dance, track, soccer, whatever I’m doing, it’s a nice place to release whatever’s going on,” Aubri said.

The journey hasn’t been easy for Aubri, and it’s far from over. But taking it one day at a time and getting to work, she knows that her feelings of stress and sadness won’t define her.

“I’m not perfect yet, nobody is, but I just have to work at it every day and find ways to feel better, because every day is different, and so when the hardest days come, I have to put in more work and think about it more to helping myself than when I have easy days and feel perfectly fine,” she said.

Aubri hopes that by sharing her experience of living with anxiety and depression, she can help other young women know they are not alone and that help is out there.

“If anyone else out there is going through the same thing but afraid to say something because they feel like, ‘I’m the only one who feels this way,’ then I feel like it’s giving them someone they can relate to and they’ll be like, ‘ Oh, I’m not alone.'”

For the CDC’s full report, click here.

Suicide prevention resources

If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, call 988 to connect with the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.

Crisis hotline

  • Huntsman Institute of Mental Health Crisis Line: 801-587-3000
  • SafeUT Crisis Line: 833-372-3388
  • 988 Suicide and Crisis LifeLine to 988
  • Trevor Project LGBTQ Teen Hotline: 1-866-488-7386

Online resources

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