I recommend this article by Professor Jean M. Twenge of San Diego State University: Adolescents are in the midst of a full-blown mental health crisis

Some highlights from the article:

About ten years ago, something started to go wrong in the lives of teens. Rates of depression, self-harm and suicide began to rise among North American teens. The increases only grew as the years went on.

The depression rates from between 2011 and 2019 in the National Survey of Drug Use and Health among U.S. teens and an Ontario 2021 Student Drug Use and Health Survey are very concerning. We are in the midst of full-blown mental-health crisis for our adolescents. The teens who struggled in the mid-2010s are now young adults and they are still struggling.

Key points that would be relevant in many countries:

  • Democracies with legions of unhappy young citizens cannot stay safe for long.
  • What has gone wrong in the lives of teens?
  • Depression is not just about emotion – it’s about thinking. By definition, people who are depressed or unhappy see the world in a negative light, and we are just starting to see the consequences.

Depression and two distortions are described in the article. They are especially relevant for views of society today.

  1. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), the most popular and effective treatment for depression, notes that depression often involves cognitive distortions.
  2. Dichotomous thinking or viewing is where events or people are seen in all-or-nothing terms.

Together these distortions create the current world view of many young  people: that the world is one enormous dumpster fire and enemies are everywhere.

So, what are the biggest challenges of Western democracies?

Why did teen depression increase in the first place e.g. socializing with the increasing toxicity of the online culture?

How to counter the negativity and work to improve the health of young people?