Doctor: ‘No doubt’ youth mental health deteriorating

Doctor: 'No doubt' youth mental health deteriorating

(NewsNation) — Headlines in recent months have told of teens fighting, rioting and bullying each other. Are America’s youth in crisis?

Internist and addiction specialist Dr. Drew Pinsky says the concern is certainly valid.

“There is absolutely no doubt that the mental health circumstances for young adults and teenagers in this country have deteriorated almost to an inconceivable degree, particularly the younger females,” Pinsky said Friday on “CUOMO.” “The amount of anxiety, depression, suicide, substance use, we’ve never seen anything like this, and at the time when we don’t have enough psychiatrists, we don’t have enough mental health professionals.”

Health professionals have pointed to a variety of factors for the rise in mental health problems over the past few years, including the COVID-19 pandemic and social media.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday that suicide attempts by poisonings among young people jumped 30% during the pandemic. Among children ages 10-12, it increased 73%.

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy has made mental health a priority of his administration and recently told The New York Times that a “growing crisis of loneliness and isolation” is worsening health outcomes for children.

Pinsky agrees.

“When you take 8- to 15-year-olds who are so completely dependent on their development and happiness on their peers, and we isolate them, and we turn them loose on (a phone) for two years in many states (during the pandemic), are we surprised that they would deteriorate in terms of their mental health?” Pinsky said.

Congress has called on social media companies to do more to protect children online. Most recently, lawmakers grilled the CEO of TikTok over privacy and safety, including mental health impacts of the app’s usage.

Meanwhile, a study published this week in JAMA Network Open says up to 25% of teens are abusing prescription stimulants such as Adderall, of which there is a nationwide shortage. Adderall is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

As for solutions, Pinsky advocated for more mental health professionals.

“We need more psychiatrists, we need more psychologists, we need more residential treatment centers. We have a lot of social services, but this has evolved well beyond the need for social services,” Pinsky said. “Look at the homeless situation. There are armies of social service agencies on the streets, it’s not changing a thing.”

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