According to a new survey by the Pew Research Center, most American adolescents – of all demographic groups – consider depression and anxiety as major problems among their peers.
The survey found that 70% of teens considered mental health a major problem. Fewer teens cited bullying, addiction or gangs as major problems. those in low-income households were more likely to do so.
Consistent responses to mental health issues by gender, race, and income were striking, "said Juliana Horowitz, assistant director of research at the center.
The survey also asked respondents whether they considered drinking alcohol or teen pregnancy as a major problem among their peers. Half of the adolescents in households earning less than $ 30,000 said that alcohol was a major problem; this number decreased to 43% among teens in households earning over $ 75,000.
Adolescent girls diverged most drastically from one income to another on the issue of teen pregnancy. Fifty-five percent of teens in low-income households said that it was a major problem among their peers. Only 22% of teenagers in the richest households accepted.
The survey conducted among 920 adolescents aged 13 to 17 in the United States was conducted online and by phone in the fall. In their According to the report, the researchers disaggregated the results by income level and sex, but not by race or ethnicity, citing the small sample size.
Some psychologists have linked the growth of adolescent mental health problems to the increased use of social media, academic pressures and frightening events such as terrorist attacks and shootings in schools.
Teens who grew up after the September 11, 2001 attacks and many of those killed in school may be distressed by an environment of serious security warnings, said Philip Kendall, director of the Children's Anxiety Clinic. Teenagers at Temple Creme University Philadelphia.
His center often helps children to distinguish between the possible and the probable, in order to put anxiety in the face of scary but rare events in a proper context.
Another major stressor is the constant peer monitoring on social media and the "fear of missing out" that can generate, he added. Once again, he said, tips on how to understand social media – for example, a person taking 50 pictures to get a perfect picture – can help dispel anxiety.
The increase in the number of mental health problems could also be linked to better screening practices, noted Lynn Bufka, associate executive director of the American Psychological Association.
But that remains a source of concern, she said. Teens face rapid changes in their bodies, their hormones and their lives in this era of uninterrupted information overload. They therefore need help to develop coping strategies.
"It becomes really important for adults around teens to have a stable influence in their lives, to give them space to talk to," she said.
A study published in 2017 found that the number of children and adolescents admitted to children's hospitals for having self-harm or suicide ideas had more than doubled from 2008 to 2015, reflecting trends in federal data.
Dr. Bufka said her main advice for adults worried about teens in their lives was simple: listen, without "giving advice" or judging too much, and give them the opportunity to talk to a counselor or psychologist. if necessary.
"Tell them you have your back," she said.
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