Jun 24, 2022 - Health

Dr. Phil warns about "a generation in trouble"

Dr. McGraw. Photo: Terence Patrick/CBS via Getty Images

Dressed in a suit and a pair of white Yeezy Boost 700 sneakers on Thursday, TV personality Phil McGraw — better known as Dr. Phil — said he was "ready to do a lot of walking" through the Capitol to talk to lawmakers about America's mental health.

The big picture: The U.S. is grappling with a behavioral health crisis, including record levels of depression and anxiety and substance abuse.

The gun safety deal and other measures seek to put more money and resources toward mental health care, in particular, for kids and young adults.

  • McGraw's visit came the day after the House passed a bipartisan package aimed at addressing mental health and substance abuse and the same day another bill was introduced in the Senate to reauthorize funds for mental health awareness training.

What he's saying: Kids' development was dramatically impacted by the social distancing measures, such as remote education, during the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.

"There needs to be a task force that recognizes we have a generation in trouble here that has been created by a prolonged quarantine, that took these children out of the game," McGraw told Axios during an interview in the Rayburn House Office Building.

  • "They need to be transitioned back in and there needs to be a protocol for that and that protocol needs to be part of the educational curriculum," he said.
  • "Good intentions or money in the budget is not enough."

Here's a look at what else he had to say during our conversation:

On the upcoming launch of the 988 suicide prevention hotline: "I love this concept ... What do we need to get out about that so people understand what it is and how to we manage the expectations? Because nothing is ever perfect when it's rolled out."

On the substance abuse crisis: "One of the things that scares me no end right now is the proliferation of counterfeit pills that are pouring into this country," he said.

  • "Kids are buying these pills on Snapchat and other social media platforms and they can be delivered to your house like a pizza," he said.

On whether the Senate's gun safety measure passed on Thursday goes far enough: "I don't think anything goes far enough. But we don't leap buildings in a single bound, alright?" he said.

  • "I know we're not doing enough with the information we know. We know more about who these shooters are than we're using to detect who will shoot."
  • "We know they're marginalized. We do know they're young males. We know they have a home life that's been disrupted ... And if we start paying attention and we educate the people on the ground around them about this constellation of factors, we might be able to spot some of these people ahead of time."

On gun control more generally: "A young man's brain is not fully developed until he's probably 35 ... and the last part that grows is the neocortex that's impulse control, foresight, the ability to predict consequences of your actions. Do we really want highly lethal weapons in that kind of person's hands?

  • "Common sense: When my son turned 16, he wanted a Corvette. I got him a six-cylinder Ford. He just wasn't ready to handle a high-powered car."
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