While advocating for the US minimum wage to be raised to $15 (£10.84) as part of the Covid relief plan on the Senate floor on Friday, Mr Sanders raised several concerns, including an increase in mental health issues among young people in the US during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
A Fair Health report released on Tuesday revealed that there has been a spike in mental health insurance claims for US teenagers during the pandemic, while 4 in 10 adults have reported symptoms of anxiety and depression over the last year, compared to 1 in 10 previously.
“You’ve got young people, who want to go to school, want to socialise, want to date, want to do things that young people do,” Mr Sanders said on Friday, adding: “And they can’t do it or have been unable to do that for the last year, and that has resulted in a very sharp increase in mental illness in this country.”
Mr Sanders also drew attention to elderly people, who he said have had an “awful year” after having to isolate away from their families due to coronavirus restrictions and concerns.
However, the Vermont senator’s comments about young people caught the attention of social media users, who praised Mr Sanders for his concern while joking about their own dating lives.
User @Ad_Nuntium tweeted: “There’s an irony to one of the oldest members in the Senate being most in touch with Americas (left-leaning) youth.”
Author Anand Giridharadas wrote: “@BernieSanders isn’t just trying to get you healthcare. He’s trying to get you some action,” before joking: “And after all the action people are going to be getting after this vaccine, universal healthcare will be very important.”
Several people joked about Mr Sanders’ faith in their dating abilities, with @sjpanda7 tweeting: “Glad Bernie believes in my dating potential even if I don’t,” and @miroit_ writing: “If Bernie Sanders thinks you can get a date then what’s stopping you?”
While HuffPost reporter Tara Golshan added: “Bernie Sanders really watching out for the interests of my grandmother, who is very adamant I have a baby in her lifetime.”
Although Mr Sanders pushed hard for an increase in the federal minimum wage from $7.25 (£5.24) to $15 an hour to be included in the relief plan, the proposal was rejected by the Senate on Friday.
Seven Democratic senators and one independent voted against the amendment, despite it being included in the House-backed coronavirus relief package that was passed last week.
President Joe Biden has made several concessions on the Senate version of the relief bill, as he aims to get it passed as soon as possible so that he can begin attempting to implement his Build Back Better agenda.