April 12, 2024

The US surgeon general urges action to protect children from social media

Everyone is lonely. And it’s harming their mental health, says the US surgeon general.

Since being appointed the 21st U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy has made mental health a priority, issuing advisories on topics such as the youth mental health crisis and social isolation and loneliness.

In May, he also issued an opinion on the impact of social media on young people’s well-being, calling for urgent action in the face of declining mental health among young people.

Typically, U.S. surgeons’ general advice is reserved for the nation’s biggest health problems and, in some cases, has created a watershed approach to tackling public health problems. Consider the 1964 report on cigarettes, or the 1989 report on drunk driving.

Mental health was already a concern before the pandemic, when the surgeon general’s office noted a 57% increase in youth suicide rates between 2007 and 2018.

At the time, nearly one in three high school students had seriously considered suicide. In addition, almost half of high school students felt persistently hopeless and sad.

And since COVID-19, that situation has become even more dire.

“My concern is that as a country we will become numb to the statistics, that we will all think that this is just the baseline or that this is just how the world works today. There is nothing normal about these statistics, and I wanted our country to know that,” Murthy said in an interview with the Des Moines Register.

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