eNewsletter - July 2020
Adolescent Mental Health Treatment: Need Now More that Ever
By Brad Cutler, MD
Three decades ago, adolescent behavior of concern was largely related to drinking, driving under the influence, smoking and teenage pregnancy. While related statistics have declined, mental health concerns have grown sharply over the last ten years with 13 percent of teens reporting a major depressive episode in 2019, a 60 percent increase from 2007. The global pandemic has intensified the growing adolescent mental health crisis, leading many health care professionals and institutions to refer to it as a national emergency.
Although the increase of mental health challenges was a pre-existing condition to the Covid-19 pandemic, social isolation, increased stress, and for many, an inability to escape challenging or abusive home lives by attending school, supercharged an already formidable issue. In addition to higher incidents of mental illness, the pandemic correlates with surges in both opioid and alcohol-related overdose deaths.
There is also growing research that COVID diagnosis may lead to an increased risk of mental health problems for patients. A recent study that followed more than 150,000 COVID patients with no previous mental health issues showed significant increases in post-infection diagnoses of depression, anxiety, stress, adjustment, and sleep disorders when compared to uninfected people. Experiencing the pandemic and having a personal COVID diagnosis both impact mental health.
Diagnosis and treatment of mental health issues is needed now more than ever. In December 2021, the U.S. Surgeon General issued an advisory to highlight the urgent need to address the nation’s youth mental health crisis. Recommendations of the advisory include:
- Recognize mental health is an essential part of overall health.
- Empower youth and families to recognize, manage, and learn from difficult emotions.
- Ensure every child has access to high-quality, affordable, and culturally competent mental health care.
- Support the mental health of children and youth in educational, community, and childcare settings. And expand and support the early childhood and education workforce.
- Address economic and social barriers that contribute to poor mental health for young people, families, and caregivers.
- Increase timely data collection and research to identify and respond to youth mental health needs more rapidly.
Find more resources. For all its weight, the current mental health crisis is unfolding toward a more accepting environment that will hopefully encourage more patients and families suffering from symptoms to reach out to providers for help. Linden Oaks has behavioral health professionals available for consult that specialize in treating mental health disorders. To connect with a certified therapist for a behavioral health assessment, please call the Linden Oaks Help Line 24 hours a day at (630) 305-5027 and one of our professionals will assist in determining if a patient may benefit from treatment at Linden Oaks Behavioral Health.
More reporting on the current mental health crisis: