U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-North Bergen) and 14 of his colleagues in the chamber urged the National Institute of Mental Health to focus on studies measuring the pandemic’s impact on young people’s mental health.
“No one is immune to the stress that has accompanied the pandemic, and many aspects of this public health crisis have been demonstrated to adversely affect the mental health of children and young adults,” they said in a letter to NIMH Director Joshua Gordon. “Over 13 million people have had coronavirus in our country, and studies have shown that children are more likely to report mental health issues if they personally know someone infected with the coronavirus.”
An America’s Promise Alliance survey of 3,300 teenagers found 30% reported feeling unhappy or depressed more often than they were before the onset of the pandemic. Roughly the same amount said they were more concerned than usual about their families’ ability to meet basic needs.
Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control reported substantial increases in the number of mental health emergency department visits by teens between late March and October.
“These troubling findings only further highlight concerns about the psychological effects that this pandemic is having on young people, and in particular on adolescents who are members of historically disadvantaged populations,” the senators said.