At a Monday roundtable discussion on adolescent mental health, Dr. Jerome Adams, surgeon general, highlighted the need for more resources to treat young people with depression and anxiety disorders and warned that the health care system was failing too many children and teenagers.
“For too many Americans, this is a private matter. Too many can’t get the care they need when they need it,” Dr. Adams said. “And too many don’t get the help they need when they need it.”
He emphasized that public health issues – including substance abuse, and unintended pregnancies – are fueling the mental health crisis, as are larger inequalities in access to services.
“While we must have individual responsibility and willingness to seek help, the outcome is not good when so many young people with mental health problems cannot get the care they need and/or when so many young people don’t find anyone who cares about them in the system,” Dr. Adams said.
(In 2018, 15,300 young people ages 12 to 24 committed suicide, a number that has increased by about 40 percent since the 1990s. Nearly 22 percent of young people are currently suffering from anxiety disorders, and 35 percent from depression.)
“We owe it to our children to provide them with the best possible care,” Dr. Adams said. “To meet the demands of growing up, to make them stronger, more independent and resilient … Let’s resolve in every generation to build mental health through public health.”