Young adults and at-risk youth experience significant adverse mental or behavioral health conditions due to COVID-19.

COVID-19 hit the world and has rocked our way of life from the start; affecting the way we work, the way we teach and learn, how we interact with others, and more. In the midst of this, millions of people are feeling the effects and stress due to the pandemic and many have developed behavioral health conditions or have turned to substances to cope; particularly young adults and at-risk youth. Today, our developing youth are experiencing extreme uncertainty during the pandemic. For them, this is a time for growth and to build their futures. They’re becoming adults and everything that is happening during COVID-19 is thwarting their progress and limiting their opportunity. It is hard to determine when COVID-19 will end or when anything will return to “normal.” There is no sense of the future, and many of our teens are very fearful of what comes next. What will the world look like? What is college going to look like? Will there be job opportunities in this economy?  With school closures, tentative start dates, workforce stressors, financial struggles, business closures, friends and families getting sick, and more, it’s no question as to why our youth and young adults are struggling to cope.

Suicide is on the rise while mental health plummets during the pandemic. In a recent survey conducted by the CDC during June 24-30, 2020, it was discovered that 40% of U.S. adults reported struggling with mental health or substance abuse due to the pandemic. The survey also concluded that 31% experienced anxiety and depression, 26% experienced symptoms of a trauma or stressors related to the pandemic, 13% started or increased substance use to cope with stress or emotions related to COVID-19, and 11% of the respondents reported having seriously considered suicide in the 30 days before completing the survey. Levels of distress were far higher than last year, with symptoms of anxiety three times as high and depression four times as high as the second quarter of 2019. Did you know that suicide is the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34 in the United States? Of the CDC respondents ages 18-24, 75% reported at least one adverse mental or behavioral health symptom and 25% experienced serious suicidal ideation. The marked, “elevated prevalence of reported adverse mental and behavioral health conditions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic highlight the broad impact of the pandemic and the need to prevent and treat these conditions,” said the CDC survey report.

How do we address these adverse mental and behavioral health effects associated with COVID-19 and prevent our youth from experiencing further dismay?

Experts suggest:

  • Increasing access to health resources for clinical diagnoses and treatment options.
  • Increasing and expanding the use of telehealth services which has been effective in delivering treatment for mental health conditions, as well as depression, substance use disorder, and suicidal ideation could reduce COVID-19-related mental health effects. 
  • Community support via intervention and prevention which can help reduce COVID-19-related mental health effects. 
  • Increasing financial support for those affected by the pandemic which will help reduce financial strain and expense related stress.
  • Checking in with friends and family or staying connected to your social groups helps support those around you and reduce depression and suicide.
  • Sharing information that promotes health services, emotional well-being, or talking about substance use or suicide prevention can help reduce the adverse mental health effects associated with COVID-19.

Our youth need support now, more than ever. Mental health and substance use disorder support services can make a huge difference in the lives of those struggling. Learn more about our short-term 24/7 crisis stabilization unit here.