HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The pandemic isn’t only causing health issues related to COVID-19. Tuesday, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy warned about a developing mental health crisis in teens as a result of the pandemic.
Since the start of the pandemic, health experts have warned that social isolation can compound mental health issues in children and after two years experts are calling it a potential crisis for the future.
Donna Howard, a Texas Democratic state representative for District 48, said that the Surgeon General issuing a health advisory for teen mental health issues is a serious issue because “these advisories are offered when there’s an urgent public health crisis that needs immediate attention.”
Howard said that even before the pandemic one in three high school students reported persistent sadness and hopelessness about the future.
During an online seminar on teen mental health issues, Greg Hansch, a representative for the National Alliance of Mental Illness, said teens are one of the most at-risk groups for developing mental disorders the pandemic is compounding those issues.
“Adolescence is the time in a person’s life at which mental health conditions are most likely to emerge, with half of all conditions beginning at 14,” Hansch said.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death for teens in the United States and health experts say it is important students have the resources they need to get help– that can include making more people aware of mental health struggles to help destigmatize them.
“In terms of the media and stigma, we think that because these conversations are happening, more people are willing to access these services,” said Luanne Southern, a representative for Texas Child Mental Health Care Consortium.
While the pandemic has contributed to an increase in mental health issues in teens, it has also expanded access to mental health resources and allowed mental healthcare professionals to reach more people.
“Some of the flexibilities from the COVID-19 pandemic have helped them be able to serve more clients and get services to them more quickly through telehealth,” said Alison Mohr Boleware, who represented the Texas chapter of the National Association of Social Workers during the conference.