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By Lacey Gardner

Mental Health Crisis Poll: How do we reverse the disturbing trends?

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From the HornellSun.com

National data shows a rapid increase in mental illness, especially amongst teens

CDC headline: U.S. Teen Girls Experiencing Increased Sadness and Violence

By Andrew Harris

Ten years ago, a worrisome number of US teens reported suicidal thoughts and other major mental health issues. Today in post-pandemic America, that number has more than doubled, with a red flag waving over the heads of teenage girls.

I’m the father of a 10 year old, a 7 year old, and a 4 year old. Two girls and a boy. Worried is an understatement.

My family, possibily like yours, have allowed our 10 year old access to a cell phone given as a gift. The gift and the permission to use the phone come from a place of generosity and wanting to make kids happy. It has been a big mistake, and one that isn’t easy to undo.

Many parents and families can relate and can also see the impact of this new reality of American youth.

A recent study from the Center for Disease Control(CD), paints a bleak picture. This sentence should give us all a deep sigh and determination:

“3 in 5 (57%) U.S. teen girls felt persistently sad or hopeless in 2021—double that of boys, representing a nearly 60% increase and the highest level reported over the past decade.”

Read that full study here:

https://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/newsroom/2023/increased-sadness-and-violence-press-release.html

Boys report a marked increase in sadness, hopelessness, and depression but not nearly at the rate of female counterparts.

I’m no sociologist or mental health professional but I think we all must be honest in assessing: WHY ?

Let’s face it, our society sexualizes females. Males(in general) are not sexualized as young adults; they don’t compare clothing sizes, don’t wear makeup, and they don’t compare themselves to peers in same way. Maybe this is the gap between puberty age of boys and girls, or maybe this is intentional.

Consider our current digital landscape, particularly social media. Imagine if all Americans had to be 16 years old to “drive” on the internet? My first reaction is that would take billions of dollars out of the digital economy, Tik-Tok wouldn’t even bother to keep operating. Facebook would have to re-write the code, Snapchat would would wither on the vine.

Are we letting this obvious mental health disease proliferate for profit? It sure seems so.

I have to go back to the drivers license analogy. Are we allowing kids to drive before they can reach the brake pedal? Are we setting kids up for disaster? This digital landscape seems about what our highways would look like with 12 year olds driving: deadly.

Maybe I am way off base, maybe I’m chicken little, but I bet most parents and grandparents find some agreement in my concerns.

Now what?

Should we just keep pushing the kids off the digital cliff to keep Snapchat profitable? Or should we look for a larger answer to a big picture problem.

I’m as lost as you, but I am not satisfied with this status quo. We don’t need the CDC data to tell us that young kids, especially young girls, are being exploited. How do we reverse course in a reasonable way?

We are in the digital age, no escaping that. But how do we stop this runaway train?

This poll has multiple options and you can input a custom comment. All of our polls are 100% confidential and thousands of people read them. Your vote and opinion on this important subject matter.

The choices range from direct government intervention to expanding mental health treatment options.

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