SARTELL --While students may be drinking less alcohol than in years past, a statewide survey taken last year shows vaping continues to rise.

Students in fifth, eighth, ninth and 11th grades throughout the state answered questions anonymously regarding mental health, substance abuse and suicide.

During Monday's Sartell-St. Stephen school board meeting, the board was presented with their local results.

Marie Pangerl is the District Assessment Coordinator. She says locally Sartell matches up with many of the trends other schools across the state are seeing.

What we saw and what the rest of Minnesota was seeing was less students are smoking and drinking but more are using e-cigs especially at the high school level. More students are struggling with mental health and behavior-emotional problems. All of that is very concerning for us as a school district.

Pangerl says according to results roughly 15 percent of Sartell 11th graders admitted to vaping once a week or daily, which is less than St. Cloud and tied with Sauk Rapids-Rice.

As far as the topic of mental health, according to the report, in the Sartell-St. Stephen there was a six percent increase in middle school students saying they don't feel good about themselves.

Shannon Zinken is a School Counselor for the Sartell Middle School. She says in Sartell, they are taking a proactive approach through programs like PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention and Support) to address the social-emotional needs of students.

So PBIS is something we started this year, which attacks all those academic and social-emotional things are students are facing.

She says it's also important to teach students how to process their feelings and emotions by providing methods and techniques before bigger issues occur.

The statewide survey is done every three years.

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