Surgeon General speaks with Gophers about youth mental health crisis

From left to right: Dr. Vivek Murthy, U.S Surgeon General and Jacori Hayes, MN United FC midfielder
From left to right: Dr. Vivek Murthy, U.S Surgeon General and Jacori Hayes, MN United FC midfielder Photo credit Wambui Kamau/Audacy

It's not always peachy being young. Besides the usual challenges of growing up, mental health experts say young people feel pressure mounting, as they grapple with violence at school, a perilous social media landscape, and other uncertainties.

The U.S Surgeon General agrees. In December, Dr. Murthy released the Surgeon General’s Advisory on Protecting Youth Mental Health.

While speaking with student athletes at the University of Minnesota, Dr. Vivek Murthy called for a comprehensive response to the youth mental health crisis.

"The pandemic brought the mental health crisis into clearer focus. It's our job as a country, as policymakers as educators, as parents, to make sure we are expanding access to treatment, investing in prevention programs and fundamentally changing the culture, so no one feels ashamed to ask for help," said Dr. Murthy.

Minnesota United FC midfielder, Jacori Hayes, joined Dr. Murthy at the U. He told the Gopher Men's Basketball Team also in attendance, he understands the unique pressures they face as "D1 athletes."

28-year-old Hayes opened up about his struggles, sharing he went to therapy for the first time in 2020. "I brought a full list of issues, including a bad break up," said the midfielder.

He says attending therapy was effective in teaching him better coping skills like not obsessing over his job.

members of UMN Men Basketball team listening in
Photo credit Wambui Kamau/ Audacy

"If I have a bad day practice or a bad game, what am I going to do to still find joy and have fun with my life?"

Hayes encouraged the student athletes to seek positive outlets as a way to prevent a mental health crisis. He says taking walks, talking with family members and teammates are ways to blow off steam.

Dr. Murthy amplified that message reminding the audience not to feel alone.

"It's all right if you're struggling, a lot of people do. It's just part of being human. It's also okay to ask for help, there's no shame in doing that."