A group of 15 U.S. senators recently sent a letter to Dr. Joshua Gordon, National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) director, urging the agency to make studying the impact of the pandemic on the mental health of children and young adults a priority.
According to a study by America’s Promise Alliance, nearly one-third of high school students surveyed in June reported feeling unhappy or depressed, and more than 25 percent felt disconnected from teachers, classmates, or their school community.
In August, the CDC reported that one in four young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 considered suicide in the past month because of the pandemic.
“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,” the senators wrote.
Additionally, the proportion of children between the ages of 12 and 17 visiting emergency rooms for mental health increased 31 percent from March to October compared to 2019, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Among children between the ages of 5 and 11, the increase was 24 percent.
The letter said children are more likely to report mental health issues if they know someone infected with COVID-19.
“A record rate of 22 percent of children had an unemployed parent in the early months of the pandemic, and research shows that children are more likely to report mental health problems when a parent or guardian loses a job,” the senators wrote.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness endorsed the letter.