COVID-19 Impact on Mental Health of Young Adults
Updated: Aug 18, 2020
This global pandemic has impacted everyone's life in one way or another. As we are all worried about the health and safety of our country and the world, we cannot ignore the extreme effects COVID is having on all facets of life. In this article, I hope to raise awareness about the increase of mental health illnesses during this time.
Most college students lives are consumed by constant social interaction. This pandemic has reduced that basically to zero, some people now have friends who may even live across the country. Students jobs or internships for the summer have been cancelled, and the future of returning to college is filled with uncertainty. This is all extremely hard to process, especially while being isolated.
For years, our country has seen increasing mental health issues, especially among the youth. Some link this to increased societal pressures that younger generations have experienced. There is extreme social pressure with the rise of social media. Leading to the creation of "FOMO," cyber-bullying, and constant visual of what the "perfect" life would be like. There is also a rise in pressure to perform at maximum capacity in every aspect of life. Students take on more than they can handle in High School for the hope of being accepted to the countries top Colleges and Universities. Both of these kinds of pressures have lead to increased rates of mental health issues, in particular, anxiety and depression.
Now, we are in this pandemic which leaves many young adults isolated and unemployed. Both of these factors have been linked to increased rates of mental health disorders. The kinds of mental health disorders we could expect to see is more depression, anxiety, and substance abuse among all age groups. Isolation and unemployment may have obvious reasons why the link would be there, but I thought it would be important to explain how this link may occur at a scientific level. The diathesis-stress model explains how every human has a threshold of stress they can take before it causes damage to the health of the mind. Isolation and unemployment are both factors that can make stress skyrocket, thus leading to mental health disorders among our generation.
The stress of the pandemic may not be able to go away soon, so that leaves us with the question of what we can do to support our peers struggling at this time. First, we must continue to reduce the stigma of having a mental health disorder. Getting rid of these stigmas can help encourage those struggling to get the support they need and work to overcome the illness they are facing. Next, reach out to your friends. Even if they seem happy and well, they very well may not be. Most people put on a figurative mask in front of the camera to hid their true emotions. Connect with your friends and try to open up real dialogues. You may not be able to solve all their problems, but you can at least let them know you are there and show your support. If you are struggling with mental health, know that people care about you, you matter, and we want to help. You cannot help the fact that you have developed a mental illness, but you can work to find ways to live a better, healthy life while dealing with the issues you are facing. Talk to your friends or family. If you do not feel comfortable with that, call a help line and begin to open up about the struggles you are facing.
A pandemic is a (hopefully) once in a lifetime experience, and we cannot ignore the impacts caused in society, separate from the illness itself. It's important to look out for those around us, and take time to care for ourselves as well. We want everyone to know that College On Tap stands with you, we are here for you, and we want to help mitigate stigmas that exist around mental health, so that everyone can get the help they need.