As lockdowns seem to have no end in sight, mental health concerns in young adults have increased. As a consequence of social isolation, students feel suffocated and misunderstood by parents who dismiss signs of mental illness as adolescent mood swings. As long as people remain uninformed on the severity of mental illness, many young adults struggling to cope alone will go unnoticed. Now more than ever, it is important that people, especially parents, learn to normalize mental health so that loved ones can get the support they deserve.
Sure, at the beginning of quarantine, many people experienced relief about not having to worry about showing up to school and instead be able to do everything from the comfort of their bedrooms. However, this honeymoon stage quickly ended, and the reality of isolation struck. As stressful as social interactions can be, the pandemic has proved that they are still essential to a person’s identity. For some, being stuck at home is draining, and without the support of school or friends to lean on, being in an unhealthy environment is a very real possibility.
The amount of mental health-related visits to emergency departments for children has increased and has remained consistently high since the pandemic. The reason for this is because young adults rely on social interaction to manage anxiety and depression. Friendships and social bonds are key to maintaining self-worth and offer support that many young people may lack at home. Without these people to confide in, a lot of young adults may feel alone and unsupported.
Those who deal with chronic anxiety and depression are particularly impacted because of how important social circles are for comfort. This is especially pertinent for people who are in families that lack an understanding of mental illness. For instance, when struggling with my own chronic depression, I never felt taken seriously by my family, and so I relied heavily on the friends I had in order to cope with my thoughts. When quarantine hit, this was a huge blow to my self-esteem, and without the proper support from my family, I was left in so much pain. Oftentimes, it seems as if parents look at their children as if they are wounded and helpless. Furthermore, mental illness has been seen as taboo to most older generations, and without the right knowledge, this can be very dangerous for someone who is trying to cope. For this reason, people need to be given better tools in offering their support.
Truthfully, the best way to care for loved ones, especially in times of such uncertainty and isolation, is to make sure that people are better informed on recognizing key signs so that they can provide proper care to someone struggling. Most commonly, signs of depression include constant irritability, lack of interest in hobbies and the feeling of worthlessness or guilt. Furthermore, signs of anxiety may include emotional changes such as restlessness and physical changes such as frequent headaches or excessive fatigue. It is important that parents learn to recognize these signs and make sure that their children know that they are not bad people for having these feelings, nor are they alone or broken. Constant reassurance and cultivating trust helps to normalize mental health so that young adults feel more comfortable confiding in family.
Mental health should not be so taboo in society today. With the awareness that this pandemic has brought, people should recognize that caring for one’s mental health is just as much of a priority as caring for one’s physical health. In short, if more people take the time to recognize key signs and educate themselves about providing adequate support and care, fewer young adults will have to navigate their feelings alone.
If you’re a student who is struggling with depression or anxiety, you can reach out to Counseling and Psychological Services at (951) UCR-TALK.