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An Deeper Look Into the Ongoing Teen Mental Health Crisis
By Megan Thomas
Published June 03, 2022
Today, the US is facing a teenage mental health crisis. The Covid-19 pandemic severely impacted the social-emotional development of many teenagers. Teenagers faced excessive amounts of stress and anxiety. We were restricted from seeing people, following daily routines, and continuing our normal lives.
When asked about their experiences within the covid-19 pandemic one teen responded “At the end of the year I felt so pressured to have good grades and keep up” (Fahmida Manik) Another teen replied, “It affected my time management abilities because I spent so much time on one assignment that I missed others. This was extremely stressful” (Raisa Islam). During remote learning, many teenagers fell behind as they found themselves disassociating from "the real world". Many people found themselves turing to social media for support and comfort; when in reality social media can be extremely harmful.
Recently, the US Surgeon General warned the public of a "devastating" mental health crisis among adolescents. Numerous hospital and physician organizations have declared this crisis to be a national emergency. Rising levels of mental illness, a severe shortage of therapists and treatment options, and a lack of research are all factors of this emergency. (NY Times)
Social media has also seemed to negatively impact the mental health of many teenagers. When discussing the role of social media within their life, one teenager explained “During the pandemic, many influencers were extremely active within their social media. They had these perfect lives and I felt like I had to fit into a set of certain standards. It felt like we had to fall into the trends set by others” (Fahmida Manik).
Due to the overwhelming presence of social media, teenagers are getting less sleep and exercise and spending less in-person time with friends, according to federal research. Scientifically, we know that sleep is an extremely important to the physical and mental wellbeing for all people- but especially for adolescents.
For many adolescents, these combined effects led to mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, compulsive behaviors, self-harm, and even suicide. With a lack of support, many teens continue to feel hopeless today.
As a society, we need to start listening to teens and setting a new “normal”. Our lives are constantly revolved around social media often times we forget to hone in on the real moments. We need to put ourselves first, instead of seeking validation from others. And finally, we have to be there for each other.
“It’s Life or Death”: The Mental Health Crisis among U.S. Teens.” The New York Times, 2022, www.nytimes.com/2022/04/23/health/mental-health-crisis-teens.html. Accessed 13 June 2022.
Mathis, Joel. “Understanding the Teen Mental Health Crisis.” The Week, The Week, 16 May 2022, theweek.com/covid-19/1013492/understanding-the-teen-mental-health-crisis. Accessed 13 June 2022.
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