Surgeon General talks anxiety in Wilmington visit

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U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy got some insight on what is and isn’t working for health care in Delaware during a meeting on Tuesday with young leaders and health care professionals in Wilmington.

The closed-door discussion at The Warehouse, a community center for Wilmington teens, also included input from doctors, nurses, and hospital administrators, as well as U.S. Sen. Chris Coons and Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester.

Throughout Murthy’s tenure in office, two concerns have been dominant: COVID-19 and mental health and well-being. He said the two are intrinsically linked, calling anxiety, stress, depression, and isolation the “invisible wounds.”

The pandemic’s toll on mental health has been especially hard on young people and healthcare professionals. The pandemic has had “a huge impact on the healthcare workforce in terms of burnout, anxiety, and challenges,” Coons said. “How are we doing in handling public health challenges as we are coming out of this pandemic? How are we doing and improving access to care and the quality of care here in Delaware… and how are the results of these issues impacting communities.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of high school students reported they experienced poor mental health during the pandemic. The number of suicides has also soared compared to the decade before the pandemic.

“We have record numbers of young people who are struggling in the sense of loneliness and isolation,” Murthy said. “Today’s conversations highlight the need to confront the longstanding drivers of burnout among our health workers and those who care for our families, and this will continue to be a top priority for me.”

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