School closures, curfews, and social lockdowns are threatening to drag into the spring and even summer, alarming health experts—Sermo physicians included—about the mental health of young people.
The New York Times reported that “Faced with a restricted social life and added uncertainty at an already precarious moment in their lives, many young people are suffering from a gnawing sense that they are losing precious time in their prime years. Across the world, they have lost economic opportunities, missed traditional milestones and forfeited relationships at a pivotal time for forming an identity.
‘Many feel they’re paying the price not of the pandemic, but of the measures taken against the pandemic,’ said Dr. Nicolas Franck, the head of a psychiatric network in Lyon, France. In a survey of 30,000 people that he conducted last spring, young people ranked the lowest in psychological well-being, he said.
In Italy and in the Netherlands, some youth psychiatry wards have filled to record capacity. In France, where the pandemic’s toll on mental health has made headlines, professionals have urged the authorities to consider reopening schools to fight loneliness. And in Britain, some therapists said that they had counseled patients to break lockdown guidelines to cope.
In the United States, a quarter of 18- to 24-year-olds said they had seriously considered suicide, one report said. In Latin America and the Caribbean, a survey conducted by UNICEF of 8,000 young people found that more than a quarter had experienced anxietyand 15 percent depression.
And a study conducted last year by the International Labor Organization in 112 countries found that two-thirds of 18- to 29-year-olds could be subject to anxiety and depression.
The lasting effects on suicide rates, depression and anxiety are still being measured, but in interviews, a dozen mental health experts in Europe painted a grim picture of a crisis that they say should be treated as seriously as containing the virus…”
In a recent poll of 330+ Sermo physicians, 86% report witnessing the mental toll of the pandemic on young people; and 91% are concerned that this mental health toll will have a lasting impact. Eighty percent of Sermo doctors believe that young people are not getting enough attention and support to adequately cope with the pandemic.
Below, Sermo physicians from around the world share their professional insights, perspectives, and opinions on this important topic—in their own words:
My three teenagers and their peers are bearing the brunt of this pandemic. They have already lost a classmate to suicide. I fear the long-term consequences on their generation. Restoring normalcy for them and their mental health should be just as high a priority as delaying death in the multi morbid elderly population.Emergency Medicine
Ironically and pleasantly, young people can still maintain many social connections indoors when online but they should also go outside and get some fresh air and sunshine (Vitamin D)Pediatrics (excluding surgery)
Mental health issues carry a stigma, so people are less likely to seek help. Insurance companies are less inclined to provide good coverage for mental health treatment that can be life saving than they are for elective surgery. An hour of a psychiatrist’s time may be compensated at $200. 30 minutes of a surgeon’s time is compensated at 15 – 30 times that amount. There is such inequity that fewer and fewer people wish to train in psychiatry with the result that it is difficult to get good care.Pediatrics (excluding surgery) – Psychiatry
Mental pain and fear must be healed quickly.Family Medicine / Practice (FP)
Some experts are recommending that young people go outside as much as possible to combat their anxiety, even if it involves breaking restrictions—and 69% of Sermo physicians agree with this. Regardless of this heavy impact, 75% of doctors believe young people will recover in a reasonable amount of time when normalcy returns.
I think young people should go out and hike or walk or any time of exercise to cope up with depression and anxiety.Cardiology
The anti-pandemic measures have truncated multiple activities necessary for the physical and mental development of children and adolescents, among others I quote: suspension from schools, cultural, religious events, sports, etc., etc., which affects well-being and generates many physical and over-related disorders. all mental.Pediatrics (excluding surgery)
Young people seek to go out and live experiences but the current situation does not allow it and that has increased their aggressiveness, anxiety, and demands on them. You have to support them but making them see the risks there are for them and for others.General Practice (GP)
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