Medical experts warning of mental health crisis in youth

According to the CDC, teens are having more depressive thoughts and considering suicide at record levels.
Published: Feb. 17, 2023 at 4:54 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - Medical experts are sounding the alarm on a growing mental health crisis among our nation’s youth.

According to the CDC, teens are having more depressive thoughts and considering suicide at record levels.

“If you are feeling sad hopeless depressed for more than two weeks at a time, that is not normal, that is not OK,” said Dr. Helene Felman, the Division Chief of General Pediatrics at Banner. “There are things we can do to help you.”

These numbers are not just reflected nationally.

Researchers a Banner ran a similar study and said younger people in Tucson are experiencing never-before-seen levels of sadness and violence, specifically teen girls.

“The CDC study reflects what we are seeing with our own patients,” said Felman.

That study showing nearly 57% of teen girls reported feeling sad or hopeless, persistently in 2021. This is the highest level seen in the past decade.

“In addition, the study also found drastic increases in suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts which was also increased for teen females,” Felman told 13 News.

In fact, the study shows 30% of teen girls seriously considered taking their own lives and almost 18% experienced sexual violence.

Experts are pointing to social isolation due to the pandemic, pressure teens face on social media and bullying.

“A lot of things go on social media, whether it’s cyberbullying or stalking or just making a comparison to people that always seem they have a better life than we do, could bring young people down,” said University of Arizona Professor Chris Segrin. “(That is) especially if they don’t have that complete adult perspective.”

It’s not just girls having more of these feelings.

The CDC said 29% of boys reported feeling sadder. In addition, nearly 70% of LGBTQ+ students say they have felt sad and hopeless.

If your teen is showing signs of being down, professionals said it’s important to remind them it’s okay to not be okay.

“Making sure that teen knows that you are there to support them and understanding that you are there as a voice that can help them in times that may be tough,” said Dr. Felman.

Professionals add seeing these levels aren’t necessarily a bad sign. They could be an indication that professionals are better informed on the signs of mental health illnesses.

“I do believe the rates are generally on the increase but I also think there is an awareness and sensitivity effect that is also putting this on our radar screens,” Segrin said.

If you are ever in need of mental health support medical experts want you to remember there is help ready for you right now.

They said the Crisis Response Center is meant to be a resource in our community for those who may need help. The CRC phone number is 520-301-2400 and a map to the facility can be found HERE.

Don’t forget about the new suicide hotline, which is 988.