NEW YORK - Teen girls today are facing an unprecedented array of possibilities and opportunities in all areas of life. But they're also facing new pressures and challenges that never affected previous generations of women to this extent.
A new CDC study found that nearly 60% of teen girls had symptoms of depression in the past year. One in three had seriously considered suicide.
Psychologist Dr. Daryl Johnson is not surprised by the study's findings, coming after the pandemic. She says family and friends play a big role, for better or for worse.
"I think it starts with home," she explained. "It also starts with the friend group. So if you could be that one friend that could shake things up a little bit and start asking different or better questions about who you are, and maybe like, 'Why do you follow the girl if that's not really making you feel good?' Or focusing on strengths, I think that could be a game-changer."
The isolation of the pandemic years happened at a critical development time for preteens. Plus, living so much in a virtual world brought constant comparisons and pressure to measure up to social media images that are often not even real. It left many teen girls feeling alone and inadequate.
The My Girl Talk organization helps empower young girls with peer-to-peer mentoring. Sia Patel, their teen leader of the year, is now an 18-year-old college freshman and she says not to be afraid to ask for help.
"I know it's scary. I know that better than anybody, that it is scary to ask for help, especially when you think you've dug the hole too deep," she said. "But there will always be somebody, and even if the first person you ask does not give you the answer you want to hear or should hear, there's always somebody else."
"If you do not maintain an open dialogue with your daughter, she will go somewhere else for advice that may not be good," warned Mary Almonte, president and founder of Young Urban Moms (@youngurbanmoms on Twitter and Instagram).
Almonte offered advice to stay connected to your teen girl.
"I think sometimes you might have to control your reactions to information you were given by your daughters, because if you react in a shocked or very emotional way, they may not feel so comfortable coming to you again."
We explore many aspects of this issue with our panel on our next episode of Street Soldiers, 10:30 p.m. Friday on March 17, 2023, and after that on our Street Soldiers playlist on our FOX5NY YouTube page.
If you or a loved one is feeling distressed, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The crisis center provides free and confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to civilians and veterans. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Or text HOME to 741-741 (Crisis Text Line).
CLICK HERE for the warning signs and risk factors of suicide. Call 1-800-273-TALK for free and confidential emotional support.