Pandemic's mental health burden heaviest among young adults
The pandemic has closed schools, offices, sports venues, and limited social interaction to millions of people - perhaps an even bigger battle for young people who are more used to being active.
In a recent survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 63% of 18- to 24-year-olds reported symptoms of anxiety or depression, 25% reported increased substance use to manage this stress, and 25% reported that I had seriously over Thought about suicide.
"The mental health effects of the pandemic are much greater in younger adults," said Dr. Shaker Saxena of the Harvard School of Public Health and Professor of the Practice of Global Mental Health Courts. "The numbers from the US suggest that almost two-thirds of young adults have symptoms of anxiety, depression, or other mental health problems."
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According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 50% of all lifelong mental illnesses develop by the age of 14 and 75% by the age of 24.
Even if the COVID-19 crisis is over, Saxena stated that 10% of these adults will have long-term effects on the mental health issues they are currently dealing with.
PHOTO: A woman shows symptoms of depression in an undated photo. (STOCK PHOTO / Getty Images)
"About a third could actually have a problem so severe that it affects their lives in terms of job performance and education," said Saxena. "This could actually be a much greater burden on health and disability."
Saxena added, "A lot of people are losing their jobs. Some people are earning a lot less than they used to be. There is uncertainty about where and what is to come tomorrow that younger adults face much more than middle-aged or older adults because this is the time for changes in their life. "
The Healthy Minds Network conducted a survey and found that 80% of college students said COVID-19 had a negative impact on their mental health.
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Experts fear that many of those affected are not getting the professional help they need, and Dr. Sarah Lipson, an assistant professor in the department of health law policy and management at Boston University School of Public Health and co-principal investigator of the Healthy Minds Network Study, said ABC News experts are trying to quantify that.
"Color and low-income students are significantly less likely to seek care if they have mental health problems because of the cost and availability," Lipson said. "These are the same students who are less likely to graduate and graduate. There is some sort of intersection of outcomes that are so important to us in this regard for young adults."
The rise in anxiety and depression
Saxena explained that the pandemic is a "perfect storm" creating uncertainty stemming from fear and loss, and potentially leading to depression. Many young adults have lost a lot, especially when it comes to educational and professional opportunities.
"For people between the ages of 21 and 25, this is a time of expansion in their lives, with new connections and new things," said Lipson. "This is all going to stop. I think this is a difficult time for parts of life to stand still when there is usually just this rapid development period with so much happening socially and professionally."
PHOTO: DA depressed and stressed university student holds his face in his hands in this undated picture. (Photofusion / UIG via Getty Images)
"The labor market that young people are entering," she added, "is very unpredictable, which I think causes a lot of stress."
Loneliness and social isolation
Mental Health America found that between April and September last year, 70% of people reported that loneliness or isolation was the main contributing factor to mental health problems. Isolation is the actual separation from others, and loneliness is the accompanying feeling.
"You can be lonely while with others. Both loneliness and self-isolation lead to significant health effects, and communication about the need to distance yourself in the pandemic has been very unfortunate," said Saxena.
He said social distancing should actually have been called physical distancing, separate from social connectedness.
MORE: Half of the COVID-19 vaccines given in Chicago last week went to black Latinx residents
"People are forced to do it because there are rules," he added. "However, try to be as connected as possible."
Jordan Corcoran, an attorney and founder of Listen Lucy, a mental health organization, was diagnosed with generalized anxiety and panic disorder at age 19. At 33, she described the pandemic as very challenging.
"I feel like I work every minute of the day to keep my anxiety at bay," Corcoran said. "Isolation is an essential part of dealing with mental illness."
PHOTO: A woman dealing with depression sits in her bedroom in Warsaw, Poland on Jan 27, 2019. (NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Even after getting help and advocating for others struggling with mental disorders, Corcoran faces her own struggles every day.
"The world keeps imagining all these obstacles. I don't know how much longer I can do that," Corcoran explained. "I check my sanity every day. It's part of my survival as part of my journey."
What can be done
Saxena said stress in the workplace - employees are overworked, may or may not involve layoffs or company reorganizations - goes a long way, and employers can step in to help.
"You should be aware that people are under stress and may have mental disorders," he said. "All of this, as well as any physical problem, should be covered as part of the benefit package. If you are an employer and your employee needs help with counseling and psychiatric help, they should actually be encouraged, supported and funded. This is a best practice that is needed today more than ever. "
MORE: Anthony Fauci now says elementary school students won't be vaccinated until early 2022 after high schoolers are in the fall
Lipson also said she believes colleges must provide more mental health resources and require training for faculty members so they can better understand potential mental health issues among students.
"I think schools need to consider expanding the mental health system on campus to include and invest in a wider range of resources, rather than just investing in more and more people in a counseling center," said Lipson. "It is an imbalance that will persist and worsen in the number of students needing services and the availability of counselors."
The most stressed psychological distress of the pandemic among young adults originally appeared on abcnews.go.com
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