The Surgeon General’s New Mission: Adolescent Mental Health

In a Q&A with The New York Times, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy discusses the “devastating effects” of mental health challenges for teens and the online culture that exacerbates them, saying:

“It’s not just about greater detection; yes, there is greater willingness to talk about their mental health, and that has contributed to increased reporting. But hospitalizations have gone up, and suicides have gone up. Those are real things. Something is driving the greater pain and despair.”

He continues:

“There are factors driving the mental health crisis that we have to address if we really want to get at the root of the problem. Those include the growing crisis of loneliness and isolation; the fact that bullying is taking place not only offline but online; the fact that our kids are surrounded by an information environment that is coming at them 24/7 and that often stokes fear and anxiety.

“It’s also being driven by the fact that young people, when they think about the future, see the profound threats that we are facing today, like violence and racism and climate change, but they don’t see effective solutions. . . And right now, when I talk to young people on the road, they consistently tell me three things about social media: They say it makes them feel worse about themselves; it makes them feel worse about their friendships; and they can’t get off it.”

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