Ever since the pandemic, when rates of teenage suicide, anxiety and depression spiked, policymakers around the world have pushed to make mental-health resources more broadly available to young people through programming in schools and on social media platforms.
This strategy is well intentioned. Traditional therapy can be expensive and time-consuming; access can be limited. By contrast, large-scale, “light touch” interventions — TikTok offerings from Harvard’s School of Public Health, grief-coping workshops in junior high — aim to reach young people where they are and at relatively low cost.
But there is now reason to think that this approach is risky. Recent studies have found that several of these programs not only failed to help young people; they also made their mental-health problems worse. Understanding why these efforts backfired can shed light on how society can — and can’t — help teenagers who are suffering from depression and anxiety.
“Teenagers, who are still developing their identities, are especially prone to take psychological labels to heart,” writes the psychologist @darbysaxbe. “Instead of ‘I am nervous about X,’ a teenager might say, ‘I can’t do X because I have anxiety.’” https://t.co/bk6mA2vfmO
— New York Times Opinion (@nytopinion) November 19, 2023