Youth Mental Health

- July 1, 2022
Can the crisis be eased?
Photo of school counselor with student in Denver, Colorado, on November 6, 2014. (Getty Images/The Denver Post/Andy Cross)
The country is experiencing a mental health crisis among children and adolescents. The isolation and school closures of the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated an already troubling long-term trend of rising mental health problems among young people, with Black youth and those living in poverty faring worse than others. The underlying causes of the longer-term deterioration in youth mental health are not well understood, although some experts blame the simultaneous rise in the use of social media.

Experts are unsure what is causing the crisis, with some blaming the rise of social media while others blame the pandemic or the shortage of mental health practitioners. Still others say it is due to worries about social problems, such as rising gun violence, climate change and racism. What do you think is the major cause?

Black children are nearly twice as likely to die by suicide than white children, and young people growing up in poverty are two to three times more likely to develop mental health conditions than other youths. How can these trends be changed?

1904–1952Recognition grows about childhood mental health disorders.
1955–1987Advances are made in drug and psychological treatments for mental illnesses.
1992–PresentCongress promotes mental health parity in insurance coverage.

Should psychologists be allowed to prescribe medication for mental health problems?


Alicia Plemmons
Assistant Professor of Economics, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, and Research Affiliate, Knee Center for the Study of Occupational Regulation, West Virginia University.


M.D., M.P.A Saul Levin
CEO and Medical Director, American Psychiatric Association.


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