The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has sounded the alarm over rising rates of suicide, suicidal ideations, and depression among children and teenagers in the United States.
With rates of suicide among young Americans more than doubling since the onset of the pandemic, the CDC published a study in late March showing the rate of teens who had contemplated suicide had reached 1 in 5. The same study showed 4 in 10 US teens felt “persistently hopeless and sad.”
Several factors contributed to the decline in teens’ mental health, including the decrease in mental health care facilities across the country along with social distancing and lockdown restrictions.
Once the virus took hold of the country, many teens experienced a decline in mental health while simultaneously suffering a lack of outside assistance to care for it.
A study of 88 emergency rooms across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic showed 87 of them had experienced an increase in teens and young people coming to the ER to seek mental health care, absent other options. “There is a pediatric pandemic of mental health boarding,” said Dr. JoAnna K. Leyenaar, a pediatrician at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.
“These data echo a cry for help,” said Debra Houry, a CDC deputy director. “The COVID-19 pandemic has created traumatic stressors that have the potential to further erode students’ mental well-being.”
While the numbers are grim, there is some hope as the country begins to return to some semblance of pre-pandemic life. A survey showed teens who feel more connected to other people at school reported better overall mental health.
With schools back to in-person learning and after-school activities once again taking place after a long pause for COVID-19, there is hope that teens may begin to experience an uptick in their mental health.
ARTICLE: LAURA SPIVAK
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: NEW YORK TIMES