The Truth About Our Teen Mental Health Crisis

Social media use is but one factor fueling rising anxiety and depression

Robert Roy Britt
Wise & Well
Published in
11 min readJun 18, 2024

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Image: Pexels/Thiago Matos

“Children today are getting less of everything else that matters. Less sleep, less time with friends, less time outside, less time moving. They’re losing childhood…”
— Social psychologist and author Jonathan Haidt

When US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy this week called for warning labels on social media apps to battle the mental health crisis in American youth, he addressed only a fraction of the issues behind rising anxiety and depression among kids and teens.

The mental health crisis among American youth is real. Depression in adolescents, often defined by researchers as ages 12 to 17, has soared over the past decade or so to affect roughly one in five. As my colleague Dr. Julian Barkan detailed last year in a Wise & Well special report on depression:

Among 12 to 17-year-olds from 2013–2019, 36.7% had persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness and 18.8% considered suicide.

It’s only gotten worse since, with pandemic lockdowns, school closures, ongoing online bullying, and the never-ending struggle and…

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Robert Roy Britt
Wise & Well

Editor of Aha! and Wise & Well on Medium + the Writer's Guide at writersguide.substack.com. Author of Make Sleep Your Superpower: amazon.com/dp/B0BJBYFQCB