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  • Writer's pictureChristy Callahan, PMHNP-BC, NP

Highest level of hopelessness in a decade: CDC data underscores struggles of American teenage girls.

America's young women are not OK: 3 in 5 teenage girls report persistent feelings of sadness, depression, or hopelessness, survey data reveals.

There is a concerning trend of higher rates of negative mental health outcomes among teenage girls compared to their male peers, particularly in relation to feelings of sadness, hopelessness, self-harm, and exposure to sexual violence. The prevalence of social media use among teenagers, especially the rise of platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram, has been identified as a significant factor contributing to this trend.

The constant exposure to idealized images, lifestyles, and accomplishments of others on social media can lead to feelings of inadequacy and comparison among teenagers. This constant comparison, coupled with the challenges of adolescence and other societal pressures, can contribute to the rise in mental health issues among young girls.

It's worth noting that the impact of social media on mental health is a complex issue and not solely responsible for the observed trends. Other factors such as academic pressures, family dynamics, and broader cultural influences also play a role.

In response to these trends, experts and health organizations like the CDC and the surgeon general are advocating for schools and communities to take an active role in addressing and supporting the mental health needs of teenagers. Schools are encouraged to provide mental health resources, counseling services, and create environments where students feel safe and supported.

The recognition of youth mental health as a critical public health issue highlights the urgency of addressing these challenges and providing young people with the necessary tools and support to navigate the complexities of modern life.

Christy Callahan PMHNP-BC, CRNP is a psychiatric nurse practitioner at Shine Behavioral Health in Severna Park, MD.

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