Child Mental Health CRISIS Due to Lockdowns: Biden’s Surgeon General

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The U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy on Tuesday issued a public health advisory on the mental health issues he said youth are facing from the harsh lockdowns and other protocols put in place during the coronavirus pandemic.

“It would be a tragedy if we beat back one public health crisis only to allow another to grow in its place,” Murthy said in a preface written for 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.”

“Advisories are reserved for significant public health challenges that need the nation’s immediate awareness and action,” the document said

Murthy issued the advisory the day after he visited King/Drew Magnet High School of Medicine and Science in the Willowbrook area of South Los Angeles where students said they have struggled during the pandemic.

“A lot of people still feel like, everything is virtual, like, they act as if we can’t see or hear what they say,” Jesus El, a senior at the school said in a Los Angeles Times report. “A lot of students have been less motivated to come to school, you know, miss school more. I’m noticing a lot more students start to leave class and take long bathroom breaks.”

Symptoms of depression and anxiety have doubled during the pandemic, with 25 percent f youth experiencing depressive symptoms and 20 percent experiencing anxiety symptoms, according to Murthy’s 53-page advisory. There also appear to be increases in negative emotions or behaviors such as impulsivity and irritability — associated with conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD.

And, in early 2021, emergency department visits in the United States for suspected suicide attempts were 51% higher for adolescent girls and 4% higher for adolescent boys compared to the same time period in early 2019, according to research cited in the advisory.

Even before the pandemic, children from all backgrounds faced serious mental health challenges, Murthy said. But nearly two years of disruption took a toll and worsened their mental health — especially for such groups as immigrants, students with disabilities and students of color from low-income families.

The report also said that isolated young people make it “harder to recognize signs of child abuse, mental health concerns, and other challenges.”

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