Surgeon General warns of impact of pandemic on children’s mental health
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US Surgeon General Dr Vivek Murthy warned on Sunday that the pandemic has had disastrous effects on the mental health of American youth.
Speaking to CNN’s Dana Bash on ‘State of the Union’, Murthy spoke about the advice he published earlier this month on the urgent need to tackle the crisis in the Mental health of the country’s youth, which existed before 2020 but has only been made worse by the ongoing pandemic which has impacted almost every aspect of children’s lives.
“I’m so concerned about our children because there is an epidemic, if you will, of mental health issues that they are facing, and part of it is because of the pandemic,” he said. . “We have certainly seen that many children have lost loved ones during this pandemic – 140,000 children have lost a caregiver. We know their lives have been turned upside down. They couldn’t see friends as often as they would, and it took its toll.
Murthy said his opinion described the impacts of the pandemic on the mental health of young Americans and families, but also the mental health issues that had existed among these groups for years.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health issues were the leading cause of disability among young people, with up to one in five children aged 3 to 17 in the United States having a mental, emotional, developmental disorder. or behavioral, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Between 2009 and 2019, the percentage of high school students who reported persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness increased by 40%, reaching more than one in three students.
Between 2007 and 2018, suicide rates among young Americans aged 10 to 24 fell from 6.8 to 10.7 per 100,000, and early estimates from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics suggest that more than 6 600 people of the same age group died by suicide in 2020. Early CDC clinical data shows that at the start of 2021, emergency department visits in the United States for suspected suicide attempts were 51% more high for adolescent girls and 4% higher for adolescent boys compared to the same period in early 2019.
In his opinion, Murthy noted that the negative impacts of the pandemic most strongly affect marginalized youth, such as children with disabilities, children of color, LGBTQ youth, children who are homeless or in low-income households, children from rural areas, young people from immigrant households and children trapped in the juvenile justice system. Pandemic-related safety measures that reduced in-person interactions also made it more difficult to recognize signs of child abuse, mental health issues and other challenges.
The surgeon general said the long-term implications of the pandemic on children are “still being written and this is something that we can really shape through the actions we take today.”
“You know, I think about this not just as a general surgeon or as a doctor, but as a father. You know, I have two little children. They’re 5 and 3, and I saw the impact of the pandemic, you know, on them. And parents across the country too, ”he said. “In the days since our Youth Mental Health Advisory was released, I heard from so many people across the country who said, ‘I’m worried about my child. I saw them struggle, what am I doing? ‘ And the reason we published this notice is that there are steps we can take. “
The advisory included recommended actions for families, schools and governments, as well as healthcare providers and media and tech companies. Murthy pointed out that one of the most important things parents can do is help break down the stigma of mental health issues and reassure children that it is okay to ask adults for help. confidence.
Read HuffPost’s guide on what parents need to know about talking to kids about mental health issues and suicide.
If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 for National lifeline for suicide prevention. You can also send a HOME SMS to 741-741 for free, 24 hour assistance from the Crisis Text Line. Outside the United States, please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of resources.
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