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Mental Health of Children Identified As Increasing Concern Amongst Parents

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Concern for the mental health of children is on the rise amongst U.S. parents, according to a new report. 

Released by the Pew Research Center, based on a survey of 3,757 U.S. parents that have children that are younger than 18, the report found that 40% of American parents are worried that their children may struggle with their mental health. Amongst other mental issues, their children developing anxiety or depression is the biggest identified fear for them.

Of all ethnic and racial groups, Hispanic parents are the most worried about their children’s mental health; according to the report, 43% of Hispanic parents say that they’re concerned that their kids will suffer from high levels of sadness or anxiety. Meanwhile, 43% of white parents and 32% of Black parents also share the same concern.

“I would say over the last 10 years, since I’ve been practicing as a general pediatrician, I have seen a shift both in the amount of patients and of all ages dealing with anxiety and depression. And their parents being concerned about this is a key issue,” said the speaker for the American Academy of Pediatrics, Dr. Katherine Williamson, per CNN. “Even before the pandemic, we were seeing skyrocketing numbers of kids and adolescents dealing with mental health issues, and that has increased exponentially since the pandemic.”

Of all age groups and all ethnic and racial groups, Black children were amongst the most affected mentally by the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. According to a 2022 report released by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, depression, anxiety and stress have increased amongst Black adolescents. This higher rate has led to higher suicide rates. According to the report, Black adolescents between the ages of five and 12 were two times more likely to take their lives.

Amongst the stressors that contributed to these higher rates of anxiety and depression was an increased chance of losing a caregiver for the Black youth. From the onset of the pandemic to 2021, Black Americans passed away at rates that were 1.4 times higher than that of white Americans, according to the Covid Tracking Project.

“Our obligation to act is not just medical—it’s moral,” said the U.S. Public Health Service Surgeon General of the United States, Vivek Murthy, in a statement. “If we seize this moment, step up for our children and their families in their moment of need, and lead with inclusion, kindness, and respect, we can lay the foundation for a healthier, more resilient, and more fulfilled nation.”

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