Teenagers are going through a mental health crisis – we need to do more to help – Miriam Stoppard

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A study in the US found the number of teenagers reporting ‘persistent sadness’ rose by almost three-quarters to 44% – and the picture isn’t all that different here

There’s a mental health crisis growing in teens [FILE PIC]

The United States is going through an extreme mental health crisis among its teenage population.

From 2009 to 2021, the number of those who said they had “persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness” rose from 26% to 44%, the highest level of sadness among teenage girls on record there. It’s not that different from the UK.

Our teenagers suffer in the same way. I’ve written about teenage anxiety and depression several times over the past few years and it’s only gotten worse.

We let them down.

In 2017, I first wrote about the effect of social media on teens, which is universally bad because it leads to isolation and screen addiction. They can be addictive from an early age.







The number of young people reporting “lingering sadness or despair” in the United States has risen from 26 to 44% [FILE PIC]
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Anxiety and depression began to rise steadily in the US and UK as smartphones took off.

And psychologist Jean Twenge, a professor at San Diego State University in the United States, believes that today’s teenagers are “on the verge” of a major mental health crisis and pleads: “Do anything that doesn’t involve a screen.

The problem is, she says, children born between 1995 and 2012 grew up with smartphones in their hands, and it “changed every aspect” of their lives.

The number of teenagers seeing their friends frequently has dropped by more than 40% since 2000, but social contact is like an essential vitamin for teenagers.

Sleep or lack thereof can also be a cause of stress and anxiety.

Four in 10 girls in England aged 13 to 15 struggle to sleep at least once a week.

More than a quarter of 11-year-olds also report having difficulty getting a full night’s rest.

Then there is school stress.

15-year-olds in England experience the worst pressure at school, with 74% of girls and 62% of boys feeling stressed about school work.

Social media addiction is especially vicious for girls who are susceptible to the judgment of friends, teachers and influencers, and many become obsessed with body image and popularity.







University students also reported a large increase in anxiety [FILE PIC]
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Even Instagram itself points out that a third of teenage girls said the platform makes them feel worse, even if they “feel unable to stop themselves” from going online.

One in 13 young Britons suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder by the age of 18, with half of them self-harming and one in five attempting suicide.

College-going students are no exception either: between 2014-2015 and 2017-2018, there was a 73% increase in students admitting that they were anxious or depressed before starting classes.

So why aren’t we doing more for our teens?

The Samaritans are available 24/7 if you need to talk. You can contact them for free by calling 116 123, emailing [email protected] or visiting the website to find the nearest branch. You count.

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