Doctor: ‘Sad, scary’ year for mental health in young people

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Suicide rates among people between ages 10 to 24 has been steadily rising over the past decade. The trend has been accelerated by the pandemic. 

Dr. Lisa Lowery, the section chief of adolescent and young adult medicine at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, says she and her colleagues have been treating many patients over the past year. 

“This year it has been — I’ve been practicing over 16 years now — it has been really sad and scary, how many teens and young adults we’ve seen with significant exacerbations of anxiety, depression, eating disorders and suicide attempts,” Lowery said.   

The brain is still developing as people reach their 20s, which can lead to rash decision-making.

“That frontal lobe does not really form until early to mid-20s, that’s not formed yet, but those high impulse centers are firing,” Lowery said. “You have the sense of or tendency to be more impulsive, not waiting, having a higher level to rationalize things out.” 

Lowery says she and her colleagues are glad to discuss the topic of mental health but she recognizes it can be a touchy subject. 

“We constantly talk about mental health, there is still a lot of stigma around mental health and seeking care,” Lowery said. “Another reason why we should continue to have these community conversations.”

Spectrum Health will continue the discussion of youth and their mental health by hosting a free online chat on April 15. The chat is open to the public.

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