Surgeon General Warns of Youth Mental Health Crisis
The U.S. surgeon general has released a report calling for urgent efforts to address youth mental health. According to the report, mental health challenges among teens have been rising in recent years and have been worsened by the pandemic. For example, preliminary data suggest adolescents had more emergency department visits for suspected suicide attempts in early 2021 compared to the same period in 2019. The exact reasons for these trends are unclear and may include a lack of in-person connection, social stressors such as racial inequity, and barriers to accessing behavioral health care. Social media is often blamed for youth distress, but many researchers say it can heighten a teen’s current emotional state, increasing distress among some and boosting feelings of connection among others. It is also possible that self-reports of depression and anxiety may have increased because they are talked about and measured more often now than among previous generations. In addition to calling for a better understanding of youth mental health challenges, the surgeon general’s report advises immediate action to address them.