A weird trend in America reveals a lot about our ability to be engaged or ever focus on one thing and be present with others. “According to data from Nielsen, the TV metrics company, 88 % of Americans ‘use a second digital device while watching TV. An overzealous “71 % of Americans ‘look up content related to content they are watching,’ while 41 % of Americans are busy messaging ‘friends/family about content they are watching.”
“A lack of engagement in activity is one of the primary symptoms of depression”. (CN+R Podcast article, Nov. 21-27,/2019 p. A1 & 11). “Non-Suicidal Self-Injurious (NSSI) behaviors most commonly includes cutting or burning oneself. Community studies in 2008 indicate this is a growing phenomenon with estimates from 13-50% 0f adolescents in the US engaging in NSSI”. More recent accurate date for NC and other states is very difficult to ascertain. “Other types of NSSI include hitting, pinching, banging or punching walls and other objects to induce pain, breaking bones, ingesting toxic substances, and interfering with healing of wounds. NSSI typically begins in mid-adolescence. Adolescents who injure themselves are often impulsive, engaging in self harm with less than an hour of planning. They commonly report feeling minimal or no pain. Once started, self injury seems to acquire addictive characteristics and can be quite difficult for a person to discontinue. While some studies indicate that NSSI is more frequent in girls than boys, other studies indicate that there are no consistent gender differences”. (Psychiatry MMC Journal, Nov. 2008)
“Over 12% of youth (age 12-17) in NC report suffering from at least one major depressive episode (MDE) in the past year. In fact, national data from the Mental Health In America (2018) website indicates a significant increase in the number of depressed youth across the country over time. Unfortunately, 62% of youth in NC with MDE did NOT receive mental health services. For NC youth with severe MDE, only 25% DO receive some consistent treatment (7-25+ times)”.
“From 2007-2017, the suicide rate for adolescents and young adults between the ages of 10 and 24 rose 56%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”
Sexuality is a controversial subject area. Still, “15% of young lesbian, gay and bisexual people will try to take their life, compared to 29% of young trans people”. (Forbes Magazine, Three In Ten Young Trans People Attempt Suicide, Nov. 20, 2019, Jamie Wareham).
While a 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey from the CDC (2007-2014) shows many risky coping behaviors that seem to be declining, other data is more troubling. An article in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health in 2016 noted, “Estimates reveal that approximately HALF to 75 % of the 2 million youth encountering the juvenile justice system meet criteria for a mental health disorder.” “Ten-25% of youth in the criminal justice system have some sort of need disorder.” (CN+R Podcast article, Dec. 5-11, 2019 p. B5)
The Chatham Chatcast , a new podcast series from the Chatham News + Record and the UNC Chapel Hill’s Reese News Lab in the Hussman School of Journalism and Media labels this situation, “The Age of Anxiety“.
According to a November 21-27 article in the Chatham News & Record, “One in nine Chatham County high school students have self-reported that they’ve attempted suicide (in the previous 12 months). Suicide is the second leading cause of death for Chatham and American youth”. Further, “1/3 of Chatham high schoolers said they felt so sad or hopeless almost every day for more than two weeks in a row that they stopped doing some usual activities”.
More than 80% of adolescents worldwide aren’t getting enough exercise. (World Health Organization, Reuters, Dec. 5, 2019). Teen obesity is another indicator of youth at risk. “The 2017 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey indicates that among U.S. high school students: nearly 15% are obese (students who were > 95th percentile for body mass index, based on sex- and age-specific reference data from the 2000 CDC growth charts). And nearly 16% are overweight (students who were >= 85th percentile but <95th percentile for body mass index, based on sex- and age-specific reference data from the 2000 CDC growth charts)”.
“The average student-to-school-counselor ratio (in the USA) is 482-to-1—nearly double the 250-to-1 ratio recommended by the American School Counselor Association. In fact, only three states—New Hampshire, Vermont, and Wyoming—have statewide averages that fall at or below the recommended ratio”. (Education Week, Aug. 14, 2018). Although half of all mental health disorders begin by age 14, a “School counselor-to-student ratio of 1:250 is recommended“, but not mandated for NC students in grades K-12.
Incidentally, a demographic study by the Pew Research Center (Dec. 12, 2019) shows that nearly a quarter of children under 18 in the USA live in a single parent home, the highest % in any country of the world. What % of US households are parents happily “married”?
It’s logical to assume that depressed teenagers will become depressed adults. According to the American Psychiatric Association (Psychiatric News, Sept. 15, 2017), “Between 2011 and 2014, approximately one in nine (ditto HS trend) Americans of all ages reported taking at least one antidepressant medication in the past month, according to national survey data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Three decades ago, less than one in 50 people did. The use of antidepressants increased with age and reached nearly 19 percent in adults 65 years and older (see bar chart). From 1988 to 1994, only 3 percent of older adults were taking antidepressants. (The data were collected in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) by the CDC).
Something is drastically changing the well being and mental health of our supposedly “advanced society”. My question to you? Why are so many people feeling so disengaged? WHY ?!?!?!