Surgeon general warns of pandemic’s ‘devastating’ impact on youth mental health

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy on Tuesday said that the pandemic is having a “devastating” effect on the mental health and well-being of young people.

“I’m deeply concerned as a parent and as a doctor that the obstacles this generation of young people face are unprecedented and uniquely hard to navigate and the impact that’s having on their mental health is devastating,” Murthy said to lawmakers while speaking to the Senate Finance Committee, according to ABC News.

There was bipartisan support among senators in the committee to create measures to address the impact on mental health that the pandemic has had on people, particularly on youth.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a 50 percent increase in teenage girls being admitted to emergency rooms for suicide attempts in 2020, when compared to pre-pandemic rates in 2019, the network reported.

A major problem many young peopled face, Murthy said, is that they do not have access to health care, and if they do, it takes an average of 11 years from when symptoms first present to receive proper care, he added, according to ABC.

The surgeon general said to address these concerns, the quality of care needs attention and focus, and that schools and communities should look at preventative measures to address mental health and its validity. Murthy also said that more research should be done to study and understand the effects that social media and technology have on the mental health of children, ABC reports.

“Our obligation to act is not just medical, it’s moral,” Murthy said. “It’s not only about saving lives, it’s about listening to our kids who are concerned about the state of the world that they are set to inherit. It’s about our opportunity to rebuild a world that we want to give them, a world that fundamentally refocuses our priorities on people and community and builds a culture of kindness, inclusion and respect.”
For those who are experiencing suicidal or depressive thoughts, The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can help. They offer free and confidential support. Call 1-800-273-8255 for help.
Tags children COVID-19 children's health COVID-19 Mental health Suicide prevention Surgeon general U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy

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