Mental health

Ohio joins 40 states suing Meta over claims Instagram, Facebook damage youth mental health

More than 40 states, including Ohio, have filed suit in federal court against Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, claiming that the social media company has harmed young people’s mental health – addicting them while misleading the public about the platforms' safety (Source: “Ohio joins 40 states suing Meta alleging that Instagram and Facebook are harmful for kids,” Columbus Dispatch, Oct. 24).
In the lawsuit filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, the states allege that the company has profited in how it has designed Instagram and Facebook to maximize time spent on the platforms by teens and children, which led to increased advertising revenue.
The suit cites several studies including Meta’s own research showing links between young people's use of Instagram and Facebook with depression, anxiety and other health issues. 

Graphic of the week


September is National Suicide Prevention Month and new data analysis from the Health Policy Institute of Ohio found that mental health challenges increased for high school students in Ohio during the COVID-19 pandemic, with a particularly striking increase among female high school students.

According to data from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, Ohio high school teens reported increases from 2019 to 2021 in feeling sad or hopeless, seriously considering suicide, making a plan to attempt suicide, attempting suicide and having a suicide attempt that resulted in being treated by a doctor or nurse.

However, the increases for female teens were drastically higher than for males, as illustrated above. Attempted suicides among female students increased by 148% between 2019 and 2021, compared to a 51% decrease for males. And attempts resulting in treatment from a medical professional increased 33% for females and dropped 81% for males during the same time period.

If you or someone you know needs help, call or text 988 to get in touch with the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. 

Graphic of the week

HPIO’s 2023 Health Value Dashboard found that one way health value in Ohio can be improved is by fostering mental well-being. Ohio leaders can build on lessons learned from the response to the addiction crisis over the past decade to make Ohio a national leader in behavioral health.

Dashboard data shows that rates of overdose deaths and suicides vary by county (as illustrated above). To support resilience, well-being and recovery in Ohio, the state can target and tailor resources where they are needed most.
“Across the U.S. and in Ohio, the toll of behavioral health crises continues to rise, including increases in drug overdose and suicide deaths,” according to the Dashboard. However, the state does have strengths upon which to address the issue. “The state has also improved overall access to care over the past decade, which is an important advantage to getting more Ohioans the help they need.”

CDC: Suicides hit all-time high in U.S. in 2022

About 49,500 people took their own lives last year in the U.S., the highest number ever, according to new government data posted this week (Source: “US suicides hit an all-time high last year,” Associated Press, Aug. 11).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which posted the numbers, has not yet calculated a suicide rate for the year, but available data suggests suicides are more common in the U.S. than at any time since the dawn of World War II.
Experts caution that suicide is complicated, and that recent increases might be driven by a range of factors, including higher rates of depression and limited availability of mental health services.
Despite the grim statistics, some say there is reason for optimism. A national crisis line launched a year ago, meaning anyone in the U.S. can dial 988 to reach mental health specialists. The CDC is expanding a suicide program to fund more prevention work in different communities. And there’s growing awareness of the issue and that it’s OK to ask for help, health officials say.
The largest increases were seen in older adults. Deaths rose nearly 7% in people ages 45 to 64, and more than 8% in people 65 and older. However, there was a more than 8% drop in suicides in people ages 10 to 24 in 2022. That may be due to increased attention to youth mental health issues and a push for schools and others to focus on the problem, CDC officials said.
If you or someone you know needs help, call or text 988 to get in touch with the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. 

Survey: Nearly 9 of 10 young adults have mental health challenges

Nearly 9 out of 10 U.S. teens and young adults say they experience mental health challenges regularly, according to a national survey released this week (Source: “Nearly 90% of teens and young adults have mental health challenges, survey finds,” San Francisco Chronicle via MSN, Aug. 3).

The poll, conducted by Harris Poll and health insurer Blue Shield of California, found that 87% of people ages 14 to 25 say they have mental health challenges on a regular basis. It was conducted May 31 to June 13 and included responses from 1,368 people.

It’s not clear whether this marks an improvement or worsening of youth mental health compared with previous years because it’s the first year Blue Shield has done a survey that worded the question this way.

U.S. must tackle mental health, addiction crises simultaneously, top federal official tells Congress

At a House oversight hearing this week, the Biden administration’s top drug policy official emphasized the need to address both mental illness and drug addiction simultaneously to reduce fentanyl deaths (Source: “Mental illness, drug addiction go hand in glove, Biden’s drug czar tells lawmakers,” Stat News, July 27).

Rahul Gupta, the director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, testified that “mental illness and drug addiction go hand in glove,” emphasizing that “it’s really important that we address both mental health, social isolation as well as addiction.”

Tackling these dual crises is an ongoing effort in Congress, with the Bipartisan Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Task Force passing seventeen bills co-led by a Democrat and Republican in the previous 117th Congress.

Areas of bipartisan interest included addiction treatment in the criminal justice system, with both Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-Fla.) and Rep. Maxwell Frost (D-Fla.) inquiring about rehabilitation programs. Released inmates are 129 times more likely to die from overdose within two weeks after release as compared with other residents, Gupta pointed out.

Budget provision makes Ohio first state in nation to require mental health training for coaches

A provision in the state budget signed into law last week by Gov. Mike DeWine makes Ohio the first state in the nation to require mental health training for high school coaches (Source: “'This is a win': Mental health training for coaches signed into state law,” Columbus Dispatch, July 7).

What started as House Bill 492 before being added to the budget bill mandates that coaches be trained as they are certified over the next few years, rather than implementing the law at one time en masse. Most coaching permits are issued every three years, although some last for four or five years.

Sponsored by Reps. Mike Loychik, R-Bazetta, and Gail Pavliga, R-Portage County, HB 492 originally was introduced in summer 2021 but stalled over the next 18 months. It was reintroduced earlier this year and referred to the education committee but then stalled in the Senate.

Task force recommends anxiety screens for all adults up to age 65

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force this week recommended that all adults ages 19 through 64 be screened for anxiety by their primary care provider (Source: “Primary care providers urged to ask about anxiety during checkups,” Washington Post, June 20).

The recommendation, published in JAMA, stems from concerns about a burgeoning mental health crisis, with growing concerns about depression, anxiety and suicide. Although the task force advice isn’t mandatory, its recommendations typically change the way doctors practice medicine in the United States.

The new guidelines state that asymptomatic adults ages 19 through 64, including those who are pregnant and postpartum, should be screened for anxiety disorders, using questionnaires and other screening tools.

In October, the group also recommended anxiety screening for children ages 8 to 18.

The task force looked at suicide risk, too, but said it did not have sufficient evidence to assess the benefits vs. the risks of screening for it, instead calling for more research to help make that determination.

CDC: Homicides, suicides among young Americans spiked early in the pandemic

The homicide rate for older U.S. teenagers rose to its highest point in nearly 25 years during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the suicide rate for adults in their early 20s was the worst in more than 50 years, government researchers said Thursday (Source: “Suicides and homicides among young Americans jumped early in the pandemic, study says,” Associated Press, June 15).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report examined the homicide and suicide rates among 10- to 24-year-olds from 2001 to 2021.

Experts cited several possible reasons for the increases, including higher rates of depression, limited availability of mental health services and the number of guns in U.S. homes.

Guns were used in 54% of suicides and 93% of homicides among the age group in 2021, the most recent year for which statistics were available.

Suicides up in Ohio in 2021, ODH reports

The number of Ohioans who died by suicide increased in 2021, according to new data from the Ohio Department of Health (Source: “Ohio suicides increased in 2021, according to new Ohio Department of Health report,” Ohio Capital Journal, June 2). 

Suicide deaths in Ohio increased 8% to 1,766 deaths from 2020 to 2021 — meaning five Ohioans die by suicide every day, according to ODH’s Suicide Demographics and Trends 2021 report

Suicide was the 12th-leading cause of death in Ohio and second-leading cause of death for Ohioans ages 10-34 years in 2021, according to the report. Females accounted for 19% of suicide deaths and men accounted for 81% of suicide deaths.

Firearms were involved in more than half of all suicide deaths. 

If you or someone you know needs help, call or text 988 to get in touch with the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.