Hopelessness around youth mental health: a ‘nihilistic contagion’ – Boston, Massachusetts

Boston, Massachusetts 2022-05-20 04:35:52 –

Me I have been a pediatric psychiatrist for over 20 years. I have worked in cities, suburbs, and the countryside. I’ve seen teaching patients in the hospital, and I ran a busy private practitioner. All the while, I’ve never seen psychiatric distress so prevalent and unruly for the past 18 months. The lack of real changes in our country’s child and adolescent mental health infrastructure is driving an equally harmful and pervasive defeat between patients and clinicians.

In the worst case, this will show up like this Boarding crisis For young people with mental illness who are simply kept in general hospitals. Allowing children and adolescents to suffer for days, and often weeks, while waiting in a general hospital for a psychiatric bed to be available will improve things for patients and caregivers so far. It is a recipe that loses all hope.

This despair is a major feature of today’s emergencies.It may be the Main function. Things will not improve unless the approach to it can effectively improve this deeply rooted pessimism. Mental health stigma has decreased dramatically. Now is the time to overcome the ugly defeat that fosters continued inertia in mental health care.


The vast majority of children and teens admitted to general hospitals for suicidal ideation and suicidal behavior do not, in fact, hurt themselves while waiting for a psychiatric placement. Policy makers can misunderstand this lack of self-harm as reducing the urgency of genuine structural changes in mental health care. Obviously, riding a young man in a regular hospital bed cannot be the main solution. As the mental health crisis continues unchanging, patients, their families, doctors, and their communities become increasingly desperate.

The worst part of this despair is that it itself becomes a kind of nihilistic transmission. In short, I mean a malignant, contagious, negative attitude that adopts a willingness to change. After all, nihilism means nothing. This transmission promotes the feeling that nothing is useful.


Here’s how this psychological transmission spreads:

A child with mental health problems comes to a general hospital and the family soon finds out that there are no or very few treatment options. The tools available for psychiatric care in general hospitals are very limited and there are no beds available for professional psychological support. People wait days, sometimes weeks, for appropriate treatment to be available. They are ill and unable to go home, but they are in the wrong kind of hospital for what they need most. When children and teens get stuck in this way, they internalize the message that their suffering is not planned or taken seriously. They compare this lack of behavior with the immediacy of treatment for other illnesses. If you have streptococcal pharyngitis, you will receive prompt and effective treatment. If they need surgery, they get it. However, the situation is different for serious mental illness. Despair will take hold and spread throughout the community and social media platforms.

This transmission of despair can take many forms. Sometimes patients and their families simply give up. Combined with an incompletely treated mental illness, this leads to a more deadly attempt at suicide. No notes are left, no warnings are given, and children either die or approach death with their own hands. These tragic events tend to become apparent when suicide causes headlines in local and social media, which in turn leads to an increase in others who hurt themselves. This phenomenon is Suicide transmission effectWell documented for decades.

Some young people internalize despair. Adolescents especially accept the role of being a “child with problems that no one cares about.” This is the result of low resource availability and the normal willingness to identify, which is characteristic of adults. In other words, these young people, first and foremost, recognize that they are suffering from unmanageable social problems. This sensation is then continuously enhanced and perpetuated by the inadequacy of the healthcare system. And as they share their views with others, despair spreads.

Things have been terrible for so long that no one remembers that the US healthcare system, and in fact our entire culture, can be better. This nihilism reminds us of the virus because it sneaks under the emotional skin of the individual. People are lazy and sick, frustrated and enthusiastic. These emotions, like viruses, spread quickly and positively throughout the community.

However, it is important to remember that the same frustration has existed for a very long time with respect to stigma associated with mental illness. Indeed, progress made in many ways against this prejudice can explain today’s predicament. More people are willing to ask for help, but mental health care systems are not keeping up with their increased numbers.

First step towards fix Boarding crisis For children and adolescents with mental health problems, it is a clear admission that this confusion can be corrected. It requires financial resources, creative inspiration, and true structural change. It certainly needs bipartisan support. And it will be expensive. Still, it is possible.

It is immoral to refuse to act. It is also emotionally and economically devastating to everyone. Optimistic spirit is more essential than ever. It’s not time to give up hope. Country children and adolescents are of better value.

Stephen C. Schlossman is a child psychiatrist on staff at the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire, and an associate professor of psychiatry at Geisel School of Medicine in Dartmouth.

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