Surgeon General Report Suggests Increasing Suicidality In Adolescents.
The Surgeon General of the United States issued an alarming report in early December 2021 which stated that the increase in emergency room visits for suicide attempts by adolescent girls in the US in early 2021 rose by 51% when compared to the same period in 2019. Shockingly, the figure rose by 4% for boys. Any increase in these outcomes is cause for concern, and the social challenges facing our female adolescents today are particularly alarming.
There are numerous opportunities for improvement in the way society recognizes and addresses mental health problems in children and young adults. Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness strives to confront the growing mental health crisis with clinically sophisticated, research-led treatment. The Surgeon General’s report references social media as one of many factors that might be contributing to the increase in emergency room visits for suicide attempts. Other variables include a lack of clinical help accessible to most adolescents, as well as an increase in reporting or medicalizing conditions such as anxiety and depression.
“Today, adolescents and young adults experience greater amounts of social pressure than even five or ten years ago, and social media is a big part of that pressure,” says Dr. Tony Issenman, Director of Family Programs at Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness, “Adolescents in general are trying to discover their place in the world— yet they haven’t developed a skill set to tolerate the high levels of distress they are experiencing through social media. This leads students to engage in behaviors that are not aligned with their nascent and evolving values simply to get through the day.”
He continues, “It is understandable that behaviors go out of line because of social pressure. Unfortunately, our children frequently don’t have an adult figure saying, ‘I understand the pressure and here are some ways that you can manage the day-to-day stress.’”
It is crucial for our children to develop skills which help them become more resilient and learn how to logically process stimuli, especially negative or confidence-destroying pressures. Blue Ridge’s programming is designed to give teens, young adults and parents the tools they need to thrive. Students and their families are encouraged to explore and define their values, and outline how those values will guide their lives. Students work on evaluating external influences and determining how they are factored into day-to-day behaviors and decisions. They’re given the tools to make decisions which are aligned with their values, and are able to feel grateful and positive rather than overwhelmed and self-destructive.
The immersive wilderness experience Blue Ridge provides removes students from the omnipresent digitized social world and allows them to take a break from it all. However, the skills they learn in the wilderness are intentionally designed to help them return to their communities with increased self-awareness, confidence and sense of purpose, so that they can manage their reactions to negative stimuli—whether from social media or otherwise—in a productive and meaningful way.
The loosely-regulated world of social media presents challenges to parents as well. In this evolving digital age, clear-cut solutions to social media and technology issues are difficult to establish, leaving parents feeling confused, stressed, and isolated. By emphasizing family participation upon enrollment, Blue Ridge provides channels of connection for families who are facing similar challenges. Through Blue Ridge Family Programming, parents are offered guidance, support and resources for navigating the complexities associated with raising teenagers and young adults in modern times.
With mental health challenges and crises on the rise, it is vital for children to acquire the skills needed to regulate their emotions and establish balanced relationships with technology. Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness can help. To learn more about how we support adolescents, young adults and their families, visit our website at www.blueridgewilderness.com, or call (888) 914-1050 to speak with an Admissions Director today.
If you or someone you know are currently experiencing a mental health crisis, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness Helpline by dialing (800) 950-6264, or visit their website: www.nami.org.