The number of teenage girls ending up in emergency rooms for eating disorder-related issues doubled during the pandemic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The mental health of our youth has been profoundly affected by the stress of lockdowns and pandemic fearmongers.
The situation is so dire that the American Academy of Pediatrics declared a national mental health emergency among children and teens in 2021.
A physician at Boston Children’s Hospital referred to the crisis as a “second pandemic of mental health needs in adolescents.”
“We are seeing such a high volume of patients in need of eating disorder care as well as worsening severity,” Tracy Richmond, a physician and the director of the eating disorder program at Boston Children’s Hospital, told The Guardian. “It feels really clear for those of us who take care of teenagers that there is an absolute second pandemic of mental health needs in adolescents.”
The report explains that “among teen girls, aged 12 to 17, visits for eating disorders and tic disorders increased in both 2020 and 2021. There were also more visits for depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder among teen girls in 2021.”
“The results point to the importance of increased awareness for health concerns that could arise due to delayed medical care and heightened emotional distress during the pandemic, especially among adolescents,” said Lakshmi Radhakrishnan, a health scientist at the CDC and the lead author of both studies.
The Guardian noted that “social isolation can be particularly challenging in the teenage years, when it’s important for kids to form close relationships with peers and build their own identities.”
The pandemic has also led to youth spending more time online and being exposed to inappropriate content, as content creators have also become more extreme for views.
“As our adolescents have been spending more time with social media, we also are uncovering that the content that they’re being served is just getting more and more extreme,” Richmond said.
Richmond added that eating disorders have not only been affecting girls, “all genders, all ages, all socioeconomic groups, all racial and ethnic groups – and I do think we’ve seen more of that during the pandemic than ever before.”
“There’s just continued uncertainty, and a feeling of loss – you sort of feel like you’re getting your footing under you, and then a new variant comes and shakes everything up,” Richmond said. “I do think there’s some sense of kids wanting to control things … and for many of them, it just spirals out of control in a way that they didn’t expect.”