The suicide rate among young people ages 10‒24 has increased by 62% from 2007 through 2021.
In 2021, more than 4 in 10 (42%) high school students felt persistently sad or hopeless.
– Taken from the CDC
It’s no secret that teenagers are facing a mental health crisis. What has happened to our youth?
Many of us have been blaming this crisis on social media, as the rise in popularity of social apps has correlated with the rise in suicide rates. Indeed, social media can easily expose teens to an overload of unrealistic beauty standards, hate-based content, and harassment. However, research can’t necessarily prove that social media is harmful to our mental health.
The mental health crisis is more likely explained by a combination of many factors, including but not limited to academic pressure, peer pressure, bullying, family issues, substance abuse, identity confusion, low self-esteem, lack of sleep, trauma, and isolation. When piled on top of each other, these factors can create an overwhelming amount of pressure for teens. On top of this, the starting age of puberty has been dropping, which means we’re more likely to see increased risk-taking and emotional dysregulation sooner than ever.
Finally, loneliness, which is a major predictor of depression and suicidal ideation, has become a norm in our society. Screentime, the pandemic, and the false perception that everyone around you is having a good time (thank you social media), have all contributed to this major increase in feelings of loneliness.
How can therapy help?
Therapists can provide a space for teens to feel heard, solve problems, and learn coping skills/life skills. Adolescence is a transitional time of figuring out who you are, who you want to be, and what you want your life to look like. It can be immensely helpful to have an unbiased, objective, and accepting human being to talk to during this time, even if you don’t feel like you “need” therapy!
I personally started therapy when I was 19 to work on my anxiety, though it ended up also helping me with my relationships, confidence, and overall life satisfaction. My only regret is that I didn’t go to therapy sooner… I may have avoided more messes!
If you are a teen wanting to discuss the topic of therapy with your parents, Mallory Grimste on YouTube has created multiple videos with suggestions on how to navigate this discussion. However, if you do not feel comfortable discussing this topic with your parents, you may be able to sign up yourself, depending on your age and state laws.