*The following is excerpted from an online article posted by HealthDay.
U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy recently warned that the pandemic has intensified mental health struggles that were already widespread among American teens.
The pandemic and other major issues faced by their generation are causing “devastating” mental health effects in young people, he warned in a new report.
Emergency room visits for suicide attempts by adolescent girls were 51% higher in early 2021 than in early 2019, and 4% higher for boys.
Worldwide, symptoms of anxiety and depression doubled during the pandemic, but mental health issues were already increasing in the United States before COVID-19, according to Murthy. For example, ER visits due to depression, anxiety, and similar conditions rose 28% between 2011 and 2015, the report found.
The causes of the mental health crisis among youth are complex, and include adolescent brain chemistry, family and friends, and a fast-paced media culture, according to Murthy.
“Young people are bombarded with messages through the media and popular culture that erode their sense of self-worth — telling them they are not good-looking enough, popular enough, smart enough or rich enough,” Murthy wrote. “That comes as progress on legitimate, and distressing, issues like climate change, income inequality, racial injustice, the opioid epidemic, and gun violence feels too slow.”
The surgeon general’s report is the latest call for action on adolescent mental health. In October 2021, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the Children’s Hospital Association jointly declared “a national emergency” in youth mental health.