Health

Why Are Kids and Teens Struggling With Mental Health Right Now?

America’s youth is not okay. Today’s adolescents, teens, and young adults have lived through an isolating and frightening global pandemic, are growing up in an increasingly polarizing and inequitable political and social climate, and are the first generation who has had social media access for most or all of their lives.

“The mental health of children and teens is at a critical tipping point,” says Lee Savio Beers, MD, former president of the American Academy of Pediatrics and medical director for community health and advocacy at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, DC. “Child mental health issues were of great concern before the pandemic, and COVID-19 has only exacerbated them.”

Worse, not every young person who needs help will be able to get it. “We’ve known for a long time that our mental healthcare system lacked the capacity to serve everyone who needed help,” says Rebecca Dudovitz, MD, an associate professor of pediatrics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California in Los Angeles. “Now that so many more children are experiencing mental health problems, it’s just impossible to ignore.”

What’s the Evidence That Kids Are Struggling?

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, several key health leaders and organizations have released reports and guidelines that raise alarm bells on the state of youth mental health in the United States.

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