The US Surgeon General’s recent advisory on the youth mental health crisis underscores the need for mental health care resources for teens and young adults. “Mental health challenges in children, adolescents, and young adults are real and widespread. Even before the pandemic, an alarming number of young people struggled with feelings of helplessness, depression, and thoughts of suicide — and rates have increased over the past decade.” said Surgeon General Vivek Murthy. The pandemic only added to the struggles that our youth are facing and disrupted many aspects of their lives, from school, social opportunities, access to health/social services, to the health of their family and caregivers.
Our team at Joon Care is committed to providing access to high-quality mental health care to teens and young adults and part of that mission includes expanding across the United States. This week we are excited to take another step towards that goal, and begin seeing clients in Pennsylvania.
The latest Pennsylvania Youth Survey--which is administered statewide to adolescents in 6th, 8th, 10th, and 12th grade--found that 38% of students reported feeling sad or depressed most days. For 12th graders specifically, this number was closer to 44%. These widespread feelings of depression appear to be accompanied by low self-esteem. Over 40% of 10th and 12th graders reported that “at times I think I am no good at all.”
And, these numbers are increasing. Dr. Deepa Sekhar, a pediatrician at Penn State Health Children's Hospital, reports an increase in depression symptoms among high school students. In a recent press release from Penn State College of Medicine, Dr. Sekhar stated: “From 2008 to 2018, the number [of adolescents reporting symptoms of depression] increased by over 70% [...] During the pandemic, concerns about increasing student depression have been widespread. Suicides, which are often associated with mental health conditions, are now the second-leading cause of adolescent death.” Dr. Sekhar recommends increased screening of students to catch signs of mental health struggles before they become more severe. But identifying the problem is only a part of the solution; students also need access to quality treatment and resources so that they are better prepared to face these challenges.
College students are heavily affected too. New data from the Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Pennsylvania State University reported that 72% of students felt that the pandemic had negatively impacted their mental health. This includes lower motivation and focus, and increased feelings of loneliness and isolation. The Center stated, “These data indicate that colleges and universities should be preparing to specifically support the mental health needs of students during COVID-19, especially in the areas of academic distress, family, eating concerns, trauma, and anxiety.”
For many universities, it can be difficult to support this increase in need. Avidan Baral, a junior at the University of Pennsylvania and Joon student advisor stated, "Returning to campus this fall I felt more stress and social anxiety among my peers. Our counseling center is helpful but many students are looking for additional care and resources."
Joon is available to collaborate with high schools, colleges and universities, pediatricians, and community organizations. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about Joon Care's personalized, engaging and evidence-based approach to care and how Joon Care can help support teens and young adults in your community.