Cory Jennings-DuBois | News Editor
In present day, 49.5 % of adolescents have a history of some form of a mental health disorder. 32% of 13–18-year-olds report some kind of anxiety disorder, depression effects 13% of 12–17-year-olds, and eating disorders occur in almost 3% of 13–18-year-olds. Though these seem like small percentages, these numbers add up to roughly 26 million children dealing with these problems in the United States alone.
The United States mental health epidemic has only increased over time. There were only 14,000 reported instances of teenage mental health problems in the early 90’s, which is a drastic difference from the whopping 26 million we see today. One of the main and very well-known causes of this is social media. Teenagers who are on social media platforms such as Tik Tok and Snapchat report higher problems regarding mental health. Another cause of these disorders has been thought to be the continuous problems going on in the world that these adolescents are growing up in. From school shootings to war to climate change and a global pandemic, many teenagers are facing struggles the previous generations never would have had to dream of. These ever-growing mental health issues have been set to the back burner for a while now, but it is becoming such a pressing issue it can no longer be pushed aside.
Over the summer, Massachusetts General Hospital had an increasingly large waitlist of over 880 patients waiting for psychiatric treatment. Many were told to try different hospitals or find alternative methods of treatment, which is a very troubling task. Massachusetts General Hospital urged psychiatric patients to not join the wait list or apply for care if it was a non-urgent diagnosis. This goes against many hospitals policies, but it was a crucial decision that needed to be made, as there were so many patients going in, the hospital could not keep up with the list.
This is just one example of many when it comes to the rising numbers of the population living with mental disorders. Many schools do not have the proper facilities to help teenagers who deal with these mental health problems, and many families can not afford professional help, such as doctors, hospitals, and therapists. There are extremely limited resources to begin with, so only offering them or making them available to the richer communities is not fair to the rest of the American population. All teenagers deserve the same access to treatment, as they all deserve the same, better quality of life. Another leading problem of this epidemic is that many professionals are looking the wrong way when it comes to finding and eliminating the cause of these ever-growing numbers.
Statistics have proven that substance abuse and antisocial behavior is on the decline in these recent years, yet many professionals are examining substance abuse as one of the main causes. What needs to be done is develop a better system to acknowledge, aid, and treat these adolescents who are suffering from this mental health plague.