DENVER (CBS4) – Veteran pediatrician Dr. Michael Milobsky is concerned about a change. In recent years in his practice in Douglas County, where some of his young patients attend the STEM school where there was a shooting this week, he’s seen an uptick in young people with mental health troubles. He’s not alone.
“What we know that we’re seeing is that since 2011, is a massive increase in student-reported anxiety, depression, suicidality. It’s alarming for anyone practicing in pediatrics and mental health,” Milobsky told us on CBS4 This Morning.
Dr. Milobsky’s practice is not alone. The trend is nationwide. And while there are no studies complete that pin down the reasons anecdotally he relates the environment for young people is far different than his own generation.
“I think part of the problem is that there’s never any rest. There’s never any break in the input. Not to mention, you know social media is a whole separate discussion, but kids are constantly comparing their experience to that of everyone in their virtual lives and I think that it’s overall a more toxic stew that high school students and developing brains are being exposed to now than they were a generation ago.”
He sometimes goes to schools to talk with teenagers. When he asks them how many know someone with difficulties, nearly all raise their hands.
“Every kid has one degree of separation from someone in stress,” he said in another conversation about the origins of the problem.
Many have given up downtime for constant engagement.
“Maybe high school students kids in the adolescent age range are never disconnected from it.”
He knows there are some things that can be done and some that cannot.
“We’re not going to change technology, we’re not going to change prevailing culture. So the only thing we can change is what we as parents can do with our homes and our behavior in order to help our kids develop healthy coping skills and healthy neuro-cognitive development.”
A father of seven children, in his home they have some rules.
“In our home we have 24 hours a week where we are completely unplugged. You know it’s a religious thing, but I think that’s something that parents and families could decide together to do.”
Dr. Milobsky also suggests the discussion also extend to schools.
“I think schools should change the culture around how these things are managed in schools. I think there needs to be more thoughtful approach. The only thing we can change is what we as parents can do. That’s the only thing that’s going to make a difference.”