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Surgeon General warns of impact social media has on mental health of teens, young adults

Oct 16, 2023, 4:10 PM | Updated: Oct 17, 2023, 10:56 am

(CNN) — The U.S. Surgeon General is once again warning of the impacts of social media on mental health, especially among teens and young adults. The current surgeon general joined all six of his predecessors for a special discussion on the matter at Dartmouth College.

Even as the country has spent more on healthcare than ever before, our mental health has been steadily and sadly declining for two decades now. When the pandemic hit, its impact would extend far beyond physical health.

The virus, the isolation, the loss of loved ones—it was like throwing gas onto an already roaring flame.

“I’m so concerned about our children, because there is an epidemic, if you will, of mental health challenges that they’ve been facing,” said Dr. Vivek Nurthy, the current U.S. Surgeon General.

Gov. Spencer Cox addresses mental health problems caused by social media towards teenagers

The latest numbers show about 42% of high schoolers say they constantly feel sad or hopeless, which is up more than 50% from 1999.

A recent survey found that more than 40% of undergrads have considered dropping out, largely because of mental health and emotional stress. 41% of undergrads reported overall depression and 14% reported suicidal ideation within the past year.

“When I heard about the first one, it really hit and then another one happened and then another one happened and then one happened yesterday … and I just don’t know what to do anymore,” said Jodie Horne, a student at North Carolina State University Student, regarding the number of suicides she’s witnessed.

US top doctor warns of social risks for teens this summer

While the public is used to hearing from the surgeon general about things like smoking or opioids, all the living surgeons general have come together here at Darmouth to take on what they say is now one of the biggest public health challenges of our time—mental health, especially among this younger generation.

“And I have to look at my three teenagers every day and know that I’m not handing them a better world than the world that was left to me, and a lot of that is because of our failure to really focus on mental health and to do the hard things that it’s going to take to actually overcome this mental health crisis that we’re in,” Dr. Jerome Adams, former Surgeon General said.

They hope their voice of warning serves as a clarion call to hopefully protect our very future.

Governor Spencer Cox recently introduced a new campaign to warn against the dangers of social media. It’s called Social Harms and suggest steps for parents to protect our kids. You can learn more at socialharms.utah.gov.

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Surgeon General warns of impact social media has on mental health of teens, young adults