Awakenings Treatment Center agrees with the U.S. Surgeon General and leading pediatric health organizations to call for urgent attention and action to address the nation’s youth mental health crisis.
If left untreated, mental health and addiction disorders in adolescence can extend into adulthood. These problems can prevent young people from leading fulfilling lives. Mental health challenges among children and teens have skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic, exacerbating an already dire situation that existed prior to 2020.
We are facing a real youth mental health emergency
“At Awakenings, we’ve witnessed first-hand the pandemic’s devastating impact on young people and families. The disruption, isolation, loss, and anxiety they’ve experienced has taken an enormous mental toll,” said Dr. Shari Corbitt, founder of Awakenings Treatment Center. “We agree with the Surgeon General that we are facing a youth mental health emergency, and we stand ready to offer the support and care that our young people need.”
Since the start of the pandemic, symptoms of anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders have soared, according to an advisory released by U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy in December. As of early 2021, emergency department visits for suspected suicide attempts were up 51% for teen girls and 4% for boys. That was over the prior year, the data showed.
Our youths’ mental health challenges are real
There was a sharp rise in mental health challenges before the pandemic. 1 in 5 children between the ages of 3 and 17 had a mental, emotional, developmental, or behavioral disorder. Suicide rates had already been on the rise, climbing 57% between 2007 and 2018. The pandemic and the issuance of isolation measures only added to what was already considered a crisis.
“It would be a tragedy if we beat back one public health crisis, only to allow another to grow in its place,” Murthy wrote in the advisory. “Mental health challenges in children, adolescents, and young adults are real, and they are widespread. But most importantly, they are treatable, and often preventable.”
Parents and caregivers can support children by looking for signs of distress and seeking professional mental health care when needed. Warning signs of mental health struggles in children and teens include irritability, and becoming withdrawn. They may also have changes in thoughts, appearance, school performance, sleep, or eating patterns. When struggling with anxiety and other mental health disorders, teens may also turn to drugs and alcohol to self-medicate.
Depending on diagnosis, treatment can include:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Relaxation techniques, such as medication and yoga.
- Biofeedback to measure the body’s stress response, and medication.
- Drug rehab may also be necessary for teens struggling with substance use.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) offers numerous resources and guidance on mental health topics and treatment for children, teens, and young adults.
For a crisis that needs immediate attention, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273- 8255. Trained counselors are available 24/7.
For information on admissions to Awakenings Treatment Center, call 855-717-3268 or visit awakeningstreatment.com/admissions.