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Surgeon General Issues Advisory on Youth Mental Health Crisis

On Dec. 7, the U.S. surgeon general issued an advisory on the youth mental health crisis that has worsened due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The advisory provides recommendations related to young people, educators, media and journalists, social media and other technology companies, employers, and government. High-level recommendations include:

  • recognize that mental health is an essential part of overall health;
  • empower youth and their families to recognize, manage, and learn from difficult emotions;
  • ensure every child has access to high-quality, affordable, and culturally competent mental health care;
  • support the mental health of children and youth in educational, community, and child care settings and expand and support the early childhood and education workforce;
  • address the economic and social barriers that contribute to poor mental health for young people, families, and caregivers; and
  • increase timely data collection and research to identify and respond to youth mental health needs more rapidly.

The advisory makes specific recommendations for health care organizations and health professionals:

  • recognize prevention is the best treatment of mental health challenges and implement trauma-informed care principles to improve care for all youth;
  • routinely screen children for mental health challenges and risk factors in a variety of settings;
  • identify and address the mental health needs of parents, caregivers, and other family members;
  • combine efforts of clinical staff with community partners and child-serving systems; and
  • build multidisciplinary teams to implement services tailored to children and their families.

Contact Senior Director of Policy Erin O’Malley at or 202.585.0127 with questions


About the Author

Julie Kozminski is a senior policy analyst at America's Essential Hospitals.

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