Depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, suicidal ideation … these are all real issues our youth face. With one in every five youth suffering from a form of mental illness, mental health is an issue that needs our attention. If you are feeling or experiencing any of the above, you are not alone. Often, young adults are faced with situations that are new and unfamiliar and can lead to a variety of emotions that can lead to distress.
Depression and anxiety are two of the top mental health issues that young adults experience. Unfortunately, a majority of them don’t even realize that there’s a problem. Instead, they just accept that they feel bad, are irritable, think thoughts of self-harm, and can’t find joy in anything. Depression becomes their “norm,” so they don’t question it. What’s even more startling is that oftentimes many people in the teen’s life also begin to think that it’s just their “norm” to be that way, and therefore they turn a blind eye to the problem. This must be stopped. Those who are struggling with mental health issues need to be acknowledged, supported, and loved.
Mental illness is not “just a phase”, something that someone chooses, nor is it a shortcoming; therefore, we must be sensitive with ourselves and others who may be struggling. It’s something that happens to them, and there are warning signs, such as
For teens and young adults between the ages of 12 and 24, are some common mental health concerns, including depression, anxiety, and eating disorders.
Depression extends beyond temporary feelings of sadness and a lack of interest in normally enjoyed activities. It can be an issue when it interferes with your ability to function long term, such as the inability to concentrate in school, lack of motivation to interact with friends, thoughts of suicide, and not enjoying activities you would normally enjoy.
Anxiety is more than just a fleeting fear after seeing a scary movie or anticipating a really big test and being nervous. Feeling anxious is a natural human response, but if you notice that you are avoiding certain people, places, or situations in order to avoid feeling shy, scared, or uneasy on a regular basis, you may be experiencing anxiety that needs to be addressed.
Eating disorders exist for all gender identities despite media representation. Constant images of celebrities and models fill us with the expectation that we must look a certain way to be accepted. If you find that you are fixated on your weight and that you go to lengths to avoid weight gain by purposefully not eating, excessive exercising and participate in self-induced throwing up, then you may be experiencing an eating disorder that requires attention because these actions can have long-lasting effects on your mind, emotions, and body.
Depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues can be very isolating. There are two primary things to do if you or someone you know is dealing with a mental health concern:
Don’t ignore the warning signs. If you begin to see negative changes in your behavior or in someone else, such as sleeping too much, hiding away from the world, or having substance abuse, don’t ignore these signs. They are signs stating to the world that something is wrong.
Talk, listen, and be supportive. Building a support network is a good way to talk and listen to each other. If you’re struggling with mental health concerns, talk to a friend or loved one you trust. If you see someone struggling with mental health concerns, talk and listen to them; show them how much you support and empathize with them.
Remember, nobody is immune to mental health issues, either young or old. And remember that mental health issues are not just a phase, are not a choice, and nor do they define a person. For teens and young adults, they’re in their development stage into adulthood, and it’s a stage filled with changes: big changes and scary changes. Don’t assume they should face it alone, and don’t assume that changes in their behavior are the “norm.” Keep an eye on them. Support them. Love them. Doing so can be the thing that puts them on a path of health, positivity, and joy. And don’t forget…we’re here to support you. Always.