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Informing Policy. Advancing Health.

From Answering to Analyzing—My Journey at the Colorado Health Institute with the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey

It's been only a few years since I strolled the halls of East High School, chatting with other students about various trivialities — soccer tryouts, our crushes and our weekend plans. In some classes, I listened raptly, in others I doodled. But in every class, I remember taking standardized tests and surveys, providing my responses by filling in the entire circle as instructed, “completely and darkly with a No. 2 pencil.”

As a summer intern at the Colorado Health Institute (CHI), I analyzed how Colorado’s high school students answered one of those very same surveys.

Today, CHI is releasing its second interactive dash board and in-depth analysis of the 2015 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey. The dash board takes a close look at survey results about the mental health of high school students.

What did we find?

Mental health is a growing concern among Colorado high school students. Clicking on the interactive graphics, you’ll see students who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) are most likely to suffer from extended periods of hopelessness and to consider or attempt suicide. Female students are also more likely to face mental health challenges. And multiracial students report higher rates of depression.

Click here for an in-depth look at Colorado high schoolers’ mental health and scroll down to view the first dash board on violence in Colorado high schools.

With the publication of this insight, my time at CHI comes to a close. Back in January, midway through my second year at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, I spent weeks searching for a summer job or internship that would be challenging and fulfilling. CHI was a perfect fit. When CEO Michele Lueck offered me an internship, I was ecstatic. I had high expectations for my internship, and I am happy to say that CHI did not disappoint.

Throughout my time here, I worked on a variety of projects. Some were internesque, like updating data workbooks with new population and health care statistics or analyzing our website activity. But most projects challenged me to be a persuasive writer, curious researcher and critical thinker.

Besides the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey analysis, I also investigated Colorado’s mental health legislative landscape in the post-Aurora theater shooting world. I created and presented a theory of change model to a group of grantmaking organizations. And I researched the opioid epidemic taking hold here in Colorado and across the nation.

All the while, I was learning at a rapid-fire pace from my colleagues, each of whom is an expert in his or her field. They challenged me to think critically about my own ideas and biases. They engaged me in discussion and cultivated my curiosity. They inspired me with their smarts, humor and compassion.

I already miss my morning bike rides to the office, the conversations around the coffeemaker and the culture of constant learning that is engrained in CHI. But I’m embracing the future, equipped with new skills and passions — and an exceedingly satisfying summer internship behind me.