Since the 1990s, there has been talk of a mental health epidemic in the United States, especially among young people. Last month’s mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, New York, carried out by 18-year-old gunmen have raised fears that something has gone terribly wrong. But the problem is not new. American psychiatrists have studied the rates of functional mental illnesses, such as depressive disorders and schizophrenia, since the 1840s. These studies show that the ratio of people with these illnesses to the mentally healthy population has steadily increased. ‘increase.
Ten years ago, according to the annual Healthy Minds study of university students, 1 in 5 students struggled with a mental illness. Between 2013 and 2021, according to Healthy Minds, the share of American college students affected by depression jumped 135%. During the same period, the proportion of students with a psychiatric illness doubled to more than 40%. “American youth”, wrote the journalist Neal Freyman in April, “are in the midst of a spiraling mental health crisis, and public health experts are racing to identify the root causes before things get worse.”
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