Navigating the complexities of the teen and young adult years has never been easy. However, young people nowadays have to deal with a more accelerated rate of societal changes than their counterparts of the past. While living through historically unstable times, today’s young people are experiencing rising rates of mental health issues.
The prevalence of anxiety and depression is on the rise among our youth, with suicide now the second leading cause of preventable death for multiple young age segments. Parents and youth alike can clearly benefit from a deeper understanding of the factors that impact a young person’s mental health.
What is “mental health”?
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the term mental health refers to the state of our psychological, emotional and social wellbeing. When mental health is optimal, we can function at a higher level and have a better quality of life. In order to live our best life, we must nurture our mental health by addressing any symptoms of a mental health issue.
When teens or young adults exhibit signs of a mental health problem, the first step is to schedule a physical examination. If the physician finds no evidence of a health condition causing the symptoms, a mental health assessment should be the next step.
6 factors that impact the mental health of teens and young adults
When considering the ways stress and angst can affect a young person’s life, it comes as no surprise that so many teens and young adults struggle with mental health issues. Consider these factors that may play a role in disrupting a young person’s mental health:
- Academic stress: Young people experience a great deal of pressure from parents and teachers to succeed in school and college. College preparation activities become overwhelming, and once in college some students struggle to keep up with their course load. This unrelenting stress can trigger an anxiety disorder.
- Genetics: Some young people have family members who struggle with mental health conditions. Because of the strong genetic component in mental health disorders, it is important to keep an eye out for symptoms and get them prompt help when these conditions start to manifest.
- Social media: The advent of social media has coincided with an increase in mental health problems among teens and young adults. In many ways, social media has supplanted in-person interactions, which can lead to feelings of physical disconnect. Social media bullying and shaming also take a heavy toll on a young person’s mental health.
- Adverse life events: Young people have not yet developed the coping skills to adequately manage negative life events. These might include the death of a loved one, divorce in the household, relocation during high school, or trauma such as abuse or assault. Any of these could contribute to a mental health crisis.
- Substance use: While there is nothing new about teens and young adults experimenting with substances, substance use may lead to negative consequences that trigger or complicate depression or anxiety. Even if the individual teen abstains from substance use, overdose deaths are on the rise among their age group.
- Uncertainty: Young people were hit especially hard by the effects of the pandemic and experiencing historic moments of global uncertainty. International conflicts, ongoing social unrest, and worries about COVID, many teens and young adults may struggle with anxiety as a result.
Young people today must take care to protect their mental health. Getting quality sleep, staying physically active, eating a healthy diet and staying connected with friends and family can go a long way in maintaining optimal mental wellness.
Ashley Addiction Treatment, formerly Father Martin’s Ashley, is a nationally recognized nonprofit leader in integrated, evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders. Our programs are accredited by The Joint Commission, and result in frequent publications of ongoing research into effective treatment methodologies. We offer holistic care that encompasses the mind, body and spirit through inpatient and outpatient treatment, provide drug detox, relapse prevention plans, family wellness programs and a variety of other services tailored to each patient’s unique needs. Our driving principle — “everything for recovery” — reinforces our mission to transform and save lives through the science of medicine, the art of therapy and the compassion of spirituality, and is complemented by our philosophy of healing with respect and dignity. For information about our comprehensive programs, please call (866) 313-6307.