Updated: Mar 17, 2019
There is a mental health crisis among young adults. According to Dr. Gregg Henriques, PhD, there is evidence showing that college age young adults have a “higher level of stress and psychopathology than at any other time in history.”
In a survey given by the Association for University and Counseling Center Directors to the directors of college counseling centers across America, it was revealed that there has been a noticeable increase in mental health issues among the college age population. 95% of the directors said that there was a noticeable increase in those with significant mental health issues. Students report feelings of overwhelming anxiety at times and often find it difficult to function on a daily basis. Suicide is a huge concern because it is currently the second most common cause of death among college age students.
Why is this happening to our young people?
Some of the reasons may be:
Transitional stress. There's always a certain amount of stress that comes with change. College life and expectations are very different from high school, especially if a student lives on-campus or in off-campus housing. Even for young adults who don't go to college, there are still transitions that require hard work, change and adjustments. They feel the stress of independence and may not be properly prepared. It's an entirely different dynamic that requires adult decisions that young people may not feel ready to make.
Lifestyle habits. Changes in sleeping patterns, eating habits, social engagements, sexual activity, and alcohol use can contribute to anxiety and depression. Eating disorders, sexual promiscuity, and alcohol or drug abuse are often prevalent on college campuses as well as off-campus. There's a certain amount of peer pressure that young adults have to contend with and additional decisions they have to face. Unhealthy habits can lead to poor grades. Poor grades can lead to additional anxiety, stress, and depression.
Instant access. Today’s young people are accustomed to instant gratification where everything is available online with the push of a button. According to Judith Greene, director of Ramapo College Center for Health and Counseling Services, this has led to challenges in managing to frustration tolerance and delayed gratification.
There are ways that parents and young adults can prepare for any mental health issues that might occur:
Parents and young adults need to communicate with one another on a regular basis about how things are going. If a child is suffering from a mental health issue, that child is more likely to discuss it with his parents if the lines of communication are open. Be just as accessible to your child as you were before the transition (i.e. by phone, video calls, emails, checking in, or if possible, family dinners, meeting for coffee, catching up over lunch)
Parents need to let their child know that 1 in 5 college students suffer from mental health issues. This way the child will not feel alone and the parent is prepared with knowledge about what to look for or to assist if needed.
Know the signs of mental stress ahead of time and make sure to check out any resources that are available. Signs of depression and anxiety click here: https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/depression/symptoms
Come up with a plan in advance about sharing any issue with parents. There are always privacy laws to consider but many counselors will see you together or as a family. If your teen is 18 and older, your teen can give permission by singing a release of information form for you to talk with the counselor and be part of the support system.
Young adulthood can be a very exciting time but also can be scary. Always keep in mind that there is help available for anyone who is suffering from mental stress. Our counselors at eSupport offer parent coaching and counseling for adults and counseling and additional web based supports like skills training webinars for teens and young adults. We are here to help, please let us know when you are ready. We offer a free consultation if you are worried or contemplating counseling or other professional help! #esupportcounseling #collegestudenthelp #collegestudentmentalhealth #mentalhealthawareness #youngandstressed #stressmanagement #depressionhelp #counselorshelp