Young adults and mental health during COVID-19

Posted at 6:57 AM, Nov 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-10 07:57:19-05

WISCONSIN — No matter what your age, everyone is feeling the impact of months of disrupted routines, worry about their own health and that of their loved ones, and economic uncertainty. Now, a new CDC survey shows older teens and young adults may be taking a hard hit on their mental health.

Twenty-two-year-old Matthew Whoriskey hits the courts most mornings. With his gym closed due to COVID, he’s working out --- outside.

“It definitely keeps me grounded and keeps me feeling like I’m moving in the right direction,” explained Whoriskey.

The recent college grad got his diploma in the mail. He’s joining hundreds of thousands of other grads looking for work.

“It’s stressful. I’m just trying to find a new normal,” Whoriskey continued.

The CDC survey found 63 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds reported symptoms of anxiety or depression. Twenty-five percent reported increased substance use to deal with the stress. And 25 percent said they had seriously considered suicide. Brandon Stratford is an education researcher with expertise in youth development and mental health. He says the trends are troubling.

“A lot of the suicide prevention hotlines are reporting larger numbers of youth and adults as well, calling in about suicide,” stated Stratford.

Stratford says parents can use recent headlines about mental health and COVID to start a conversation, especially when young adults are not living at home.

“I just wanted to talk to you about how things are going. Even the new school year can be another great opportunity to say, you know, I just want to check-in,” said Stratford.

Stratford suggests parents provide their young adult children with contacts for campus mental health resources. Let them know you want to hear about the tough stuff. When they do share, be accepting and non-judgmental. Let them know they have your unconditional support.

If you or a young person you know is showing signs of extreme anxiety or talking about suicide here are some resources: you can reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or the Crisis Textline: text home to 741741 and the Trevor Project for LGBTQ youth and loved ones at 866-488-7386.

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