Mental Health Struggles On The Rise For America’s Youth

Reports show an increased number of American teenagers dealing with depression since 2014.

Letter tiles spell out the words 'mental health'.
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Reports show an increased number of American teenagers dealing with depression since 2014.

Mental health is a major issue in the United States, but it isn’t always recognized just how many Americans are actually struggling with it, including children and teenagers. Reports show that anxiety and depression in American teens is on the rise, increasing since 2014. As a result, researchers are desperate to figure out what might be triggering the problem, according to AlterNet.

In the past, it was often considered taboo to discuss issues concerning mental health, publicly. However, it is now more publicly acceptable than ever, and it is even encouraged to engage in transparent discussions about mental issues, such as anxiety or depression. These issues are often portrayed in modern day films, and celebrities discuss their own struggles with mental health candidly. Because of this newfound transparency regarding mental struggles, many may wonder if there are really more young people struggling with depression, or simply more that are expressing it openly.

While the origination of the issue is hard to determine, the statistics are as clear as ever. The suicide rate among 18- to 19-year-olds climbed to 56 percent from 2008 to 2017. In addition, there has been an increased number of reports of hospitalizations due to teens practicing self harm. Current statistics show that depression rates seem to be the highest among people who were born in the mid-to-late ’90s. This causes researchers to wonder if it could be a generational issue caused by changes in socialization trends.

Social media and new technology has transformed the way the younger generation communicates. It’s kept teens from getting the face-to-face interaction they need and settling for conversations over texting. This is not to mention the social comparison that often takes place with platforms such as Facebook or Instagram. By seeing the highlight reels of others lives, teens may come to believe they are inadequate and develop lower self esteem.

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Dr. Mark Olfson, a Columbia University psychiatrist and mental health researcher, encourages parents to pay attention to their children’s shifts in moods. Rather than shrugging it off, they need to try to get to the root of the problem and offer their children support, according to The Los Angeles Times.

“When a kid becomes more irritable or pulls away from friends or school, it’s easy for parents who are busy to chalk it up to a phase. And they can clam up, which is understandable, because they’re frightened. But that’s not the thing to do. That’s a time when parents can listen and reach out to get professional help.”