U.S. Surgeon General: Teens struggling with mental health more than ever before
SALT LAKE CITY — A 2021 advisory just released by The U.S. Surgeon General called “Protecting Youth Mental Health” painted a sobering picture of the mental health of America’s youth.
The 53-page report showed a climbing suicide number and 6,600 reported suicide deaths in 2020.
Some experts believed the mental health of teens and young people had been on the decline based on too much social media and expectations combined with the stresses of the pandemic.
Overall, things weren’t looking great before COVID-19 and the great shut down and now they’re even worse.
Some of the headlines from the report showed suicide attempts in young girls, ages ten to 24, were up 51% in 2020 (from the same time the prior year) and 4% more young boys attempted suicide.
Additionally, young Black children were twice as likely to die by suicide than their white counterparts. The study broke down five factors that can shape the mental health of young people with in-depth sections on society, environment, community, family and individual.
NEW: Today I released a Surgeon General's Advisory on #YouthMentalHealth that calls our nation to action to address our #YouthMentalHealth crisis. https://t.co/M1oq29Yfw7 [1/7] pic.twitter.com/oArHt4LtUs
— Dr. Vivek Murthy, U.S. Surgeon General (@Surgeon_General) December 7, 2021
At the Canyons District, Susan Pizitz is a licensed clinical social worker. She has seen the difference in students this year. “They’re feeling isolated, they’re feeling disconnected from their peers.”
That appears to be a problem across the county.
The mental health issue doesn’t stop with youth. University Hospital medical professionals said adults are struggling too, especially as daylight shortens and the holidays approach.
They said seasonal affective depression can set in this time of year.
“If you’re feeling more irritated, or just down for no reason, it might be worth talking to your healthcare provider,” said Dr. Rachel Weir, a psychiatrist with Huntsman Mental Health Institute.
Experts said social media can increase feelings of depression for youth and adults, they encouraged getting outside for exercise, or meeting with friends face-to-face.
You can read the full U.S. Surgeon General Advisory here.
Suicide prevention resources
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts or exhibiting warning signs, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or the Utah Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255, which is answered 24/7/365 by crisis counselors at Huntsman Mental Health Institute.
You can also text TALK to 741741 and parents, students, and educators can download the SafeUT app chat or call 833-3SAFEUT to connect with a licensed crisis counselor.
- Parents, students, and educators can download the SafeUT app chat or call 833-3SAFEUT to connect with a licensed crisis counselor.
- First responders, including firefighters, law enforcement, EMS, and healthcare professionals, can chat with a crisis counselor at no cost 24/7/365 by downloading the SafeUT Frontline app and members of the National Guard can access help through the SafeUTNG app.
- For non-crisis situations, when you need a listening ear as you heal and recover from a personal struggle, call the Utah Warm Line at 1-833 SPEAKUT 8:00 a.m.-11:00 p.m., 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
- At Huntsman Mental Health Institute, women can access maternal mental health services including birth trauma, pregnancy loss, infertility, and perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.
- LiveOnUtah.org, a campaign by the Utah Suicide Prevention Coalition offers suicide prevention training and has resources for faith-based groups, youth, LGBTQ+, and Employers.
Other community-based organizations that provide suicide prevention services, support groups, mental health education, counseling services and support:
- NAMI Utah: education, support and advocacy for individuals and families impacted by mental illness
- Latino Behavioral Health Services: Latinx mental health education and support
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: Utah Chapter
- Encircle Utah: LGBTQ+ family and youth resource center
- Utah Pride Center: empowers Utah’s diverse LGBTQ+ community
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs mental health
- Center for Workplace Mental Health: suicide prevention and response for employers
Additional crisis hotlines
- Utah County Crisis Line: 801-226-4433
- Salt Lake County/UNI Crisis Line: 801-587-3000
- Wasatch Mental Health Crisis Line: 801-373-7393
- National Suicide Prevention Crisis Text Line: Text “HOME” to 741-741
- Trevor Project Hotline for LGBTQ teens: 1-866-488-7386
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