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U.S. Sen. Katie Britt: Mental health must be top priority

Britt noted the staggering, rising rates of depression and suicide among America’s teenagers.

Sen. Katie Britt during a Senate Banking Committee hearing.
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U.S. Senator Katie Britt, R-Ala., emphasized the growing mental health crisis in America during a recent hearing of the Subcommittee for Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies of the Senate Committee on Appropriations.

Questioning the top leadership from the National Institute of Health (NIH), Senator Britt noted the staggering, rising rates of depression and suicide among America’s teenagers.

“I think the reports are shocking, and I don’t think the numbers lie. Last year, one in three high school girls said that they considered suicide. Almost 1 in 10, 9 percent, of high school students reported actually attempting suicide in the last 12 months,” said Senator Britt.

 Senator Britt also spoke about the direct correlation between the rise in the rates of youth depression and suicide and the popularity of social media. Between 2011 and 2019, the rate of depression more than doubled for American teenagers as social media use increased.

“Not just depression, but suicide deaths have been dramatically increasing in children and children that are younger than those who used to typically die. So, we’re seeing dramatic increases in the rates for pre-teens, which is incredibly disturbing,” stated Dr. Joshua Gordon, M.D., the Director of the National Institutes of Mental Health. 

“I ran for the Senate as a momma on a mission. I said that my children and other people’s children and grandchildren should be able to achieve the American Dream. If we do not take a hold of what is happening right now with social media and our youth, it is going to be so far gone we cannot get it back,” Senator Britt added.

Senator Britt’s full remarks can be viewed here.

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 On April 26, Senator Britt introduced the Protecting Kids on Social Media Act alongside Senators Tom Cotton, R-Ark., Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, and Chris Murphy, D-Conn., to help empower families and protect children from the harmful impacts of social media.

The legislation would set a minimum age of 13 to use social media platforms and would require parental consent in order for 13 through 17-year-olds to create social media accounts. The bill would also prevent social media platforms from using algorithms to feed content to users under the age of 18.

Senator Britt’s comments came during Mental Health Awareness Month. More information on mental health in America, including resources, can be found here.

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org.

The Alabama Political Reporter is a daily political news site devoted to Alabama politics. We provide accurate, reliable coverage of policy, elections and government.

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