When bad days start to feel like bad weeks, know that you are not alone. In fact, the CDC reports that 3 out of 4 young adults are already struggling with at least one mental health concern. This includes anxiety, depression, trauma, adjustment to stressors, and substance use.
Social isolation combined with the emotional toll of chronic stressors can certainly feel too much. With the pandemic, mental health concerns and suicide is on the rise. When asked about thoughts of harm, 1 in 4 young adults reported that they had thought about killing themselves within the last month.
Suicide is especially increasing for young adults ages 18-24. According to Erik Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development, high school seniors and college-aged students are moving between the 5th and 6th stages from identity vs. role confusion (ages 12-18 years) to intimacy-versus-isolation (19-40 years). One unifying factor in these developmental stages is relationships.
In identity vs. confusion, one is developing a sense of self. While the teenage years can be tough enough, adolescents are integrating their lived experiences and forming an identity. Consider the major events of 2020 and how this impacts beliefs about oneself and the world. A strong sense of identity “Who I AM”, feeling connected to others, and having a sense of community to support development can be incredibly empowering to feel “true to self”. On the other hand, a lack of support and encouragement during this time can lead to role confusion and feelings of insecurity related to identity. Those without outlets can become increasingly isolated and withdrawn from social interaction.
With school closed, students transitioning to online learning, and college students moving back home, building community has looked different. Making and maintaining friendships can be very challenging with social distancing. Dating and intimate relationships have been limited or put on hold for many.
In intimacy vs. Isolation, young adults are seeking connections with others. This includes close, intimate relationships which are impacted by a sense of self. Many young adults are turning to drugs or alcohol to combat loneliness. Job loss, unemployment, and intimate partner violence combined with underlying mental health concerns can lead to feelings of hopelessness, despair, and even suicide.
What is your story? Who have you shared your story with?
Whose story have you had the opportunity to bear witness to?
At CARE Counseling, I consider it both an honor and a privilege to be a part of one’s story. Stories of hope and despair. Connection and loneliness. Confusion and clarity. Stories of survival and recovery.
Check out these powerful stories of hope.
Your story is not over. The pages are still being written and others want to be a part of it. If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, are concerned about a friend/ loved one, or are struggling and need to talk to someone, the National Suicide Lifeline: 800-273-8255 is available for 24/7 support.
Written By: Charlotte Johnson, MA, LPCC
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