Julia Palhares, Reporter

Girls are in deep, urgent trouble, and we need to act now. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recently released repulsive statistics about the decline in girls’ mental health and it is alarming. 

It was reported that 1 out of 3 teenage girls has considered suicide, a number that has increased by over 60% since 2011. Not to mention, 3 in 5 girls have also reported feeling so sad that they can’t get out of bed and engage in everyday activities (school, sports, work, social life) for a period of longer than two weeks in the past year. It is incredibly terrifying that over half (57%) of girls have reported feeling “persistently sad or hopeless.” To make matters worse, emergency-room admissions for self-harm among 10-to 14-year-old girls tripled between 2009 and 2015. Our girls are suffering and the reason is still not clear. 

People are fast to blame the Covid-19 pandemic for this tragedy since people were isolated and kept away from the outdoors, but the sad truth is that these numbers have been rapidly increasing since 2012. Psychologists have been trying to pinpoint where this all began, and quickly discovered a correlation between the vast decrease in mental health and the usage of social media. 90% of teen girls use social media daily, whether that is Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, etc, and research has proven that these variables are directly connected. 

Social media causes comparison; comparison leads to unfulfillment and a sense of failure, which leads to more drastic outcomes, aka depression. The never-ending longing for what other online people determine to be “the perfect life” is a major factor in the decrease in mental health, girls feel that they are not enough and not valuable. 

Another contributing factor might be the increasing number of sexual assaults among girls. As horrifying and painful as it is to talk about it, statistics must be shared with the population so we are all aware and enraged to take action; 1 in 5 teenage girls reported experiencing a sexual assault within the past year, according to CDC. 14% said they had been forced into having sex, a jump from 11% of teen girls who said they’d been sexually assaulted in 2019. 

Look around you, 1 in 5 of the girls around you right now have been deeply traumatized and are suffering. 1 in 5 girls. 1 in 5 girls. 1 in 5 girls can’t sleep, eat, walk, or live, peacefully and without the burden of a baggage that shouldn’t be theirs to carry in the first place. 

So, the question is: what can we do to help? 

According to extensive research, if girls cut their online time by half, they would already benefit greatly. Consuming less toxic content is the first step to change and to improve. Not only that, but if Social media owners, or managers, increased the age requirement to download apps such as Instagram and Tiktok, girls would only start consuming that type of content when they are mature enough and have enough confidence to deal with it. Another solution would be to offer more help at schools and let girls know they are safe and have a strong support system where they can talk about their feelings. 

It is also important to decrease the stigma around talking about mental health and also about sexual assault. Being able to talk about what is going on without judgment is the only and most realistic way to help girls.