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What’s the reason for the teen mental health crisis? St. Louisans share what they’ve heard

For 22 weeks, iHeard panel members have reported hearing about the rising mental health crisis among teens. This week, we asked what they were hearing about the reason for declining teen mental health. Most cited social media use (53%), followed by social and cultural division in the U.S. (12%) and gender and sexual identity (8%). The coronavirus pandemic (5%), school shootings (4%), and pressure to do well in school (1%) were cited less often.

“Peer influence or peer pressure has always played a significant role in a young person’s sense of self,” says Serena Muhammad, Deputy Director of the St. Louis Mental Health Board. “However, social media has amplified young people’s exposure to what their peers are doing, saying, and thinking in a way that overwhelms many young people. We need more opportunities for young people to meaningfully connect outside of social media to restore a sense of balance and mental well-being.”

There were racial differences in responses. White respondents were more likely than African Americans to cite social media use as the top reason for the teen mental crisis (66% vs 38%), while African American respondents were more likely than Whites to cite social and cultural divisions in the U.S. (24% vs 6%).

Local mental health resources are also available at the St. Louis Behavioral Health Bureau.

This report is based on 154 responses from a panel of adult residents of St. Louis City and County surveyed from Saturday, July 22, to Monday, July 14, 2023. Explore these data and more at iHeardSTL.

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