What are the Most Common Mental Health Challenges For Young Adults?

Posted on March 27, 2022

young adults in mental health support group

Mental health is an issue that people of all ages face. The most common mental health concerns for young people include depression, anxiety, and behavioral disorders.

It is important to address mental health challenges early because they can have long-lasting effects, including leading to physical ailments such as cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. Young people dealing with mental health concerns also have an increased risk of educational harm. High school students dealing with symptoms of depression are twice as likely to drop out of high school. Students of any age with mental, emotional, or behavioral concerns are three times more likely to repeat a grade.

Scope Of The Problem

Young adults make up more than a fifth of the U.S. population. According to the 2019 U.S. Census Bureau estimates, about 13% of the total U.S. population are aged 15 to 19, while an additional 6.7% are 20 to 24. Around the world, one in six people falls into the age group of 10 to 19, per the World Health Organization (WHO).

This age group also appears to have disproportionately suffered during the pandemic in terms of mental health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that while all adults reported an increase in anxiety symptoms or a depressive disorder between August 2020 and February 2021, young adults between 18-29 were one of the two groups with the most significant increases.

The CDC also found that more than 60% of 18- to-24-year-olds experienced symptoms of anxiety or depression during the first six months of the pandemic. Even more alarming was that 25% of young adults reported dealing with the stress via increased substance use, while another 25% shared that they had considered suicide.

If you or a loved one are concerned about suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

Main Mental Health Challenges

Depression, anxiety, and behavioral disorders are the most common mental health concerns associated with young adults. Young adults experiencing depression can exhibit behavioral and emotional changes, ranging from feelings of sadness, frustration, and anger for no apparent reason. Young adults living with depression can also experience insomnia and appetite changes.

Anxiety is another mental health disorder that plagues young adults. There are several anxiety disorders, but generalized anxiety disorder is most common. Often, this type of anxiety appears as persistent and excessive worry around specific activities or events, even ordinary ones.

Research shows that most behavioral disorders affect younger adolescents than older adolescents or young adults. One particular disorder affecting younger adolescents is ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Symptoms of ADHD include excitability, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.

Signs of Mental Health Concerns in Young Adults

It can be difficult for some young people to determine if they are experiencing an ongoing mental health concern that needs medical attention or facing more typical emotions like stress, worry, and anxiety. One way to help determine what is happening is to think about mental and emotional symptoms just like physical ones. Young adults concerned about their mental health should evaluate if their feelings are persistent and significantly interfering with their daily lives.

Other things to consider include:

  • Are the feelings too intense or causing too much distress?
  • Have the feelings lasted more than two weeks?
  • Are they interfering with daily life, including causing difficulty sleeping, eating, concentrating, working, enjoying life, or relating to others?
  • Are the issues causing them to withdraw from relationships?
  • Are the emotions accompanied by other problems like misuse of alcohol or drugs, thoughts of self-harm, or aggressive behaviors?
  • Have they noticed a repeat in similar patterns?
  • Are the issues leading to dangerous behavior or risky decisions?

Getting Mental Health Help

Young adults should first try engaging in certain self-care activities, such as exercise, meditation, or journaling. If these do not help alleviate stress or anxiety, the next step is to reach out for professional help.

It is essential that anyone, including a young adult, feel comfortable with the mental health professional they choose to work with regularly. To help ensure a good relationship, the individual should consider the following during their selection process:

  1. What are they seeking in a provider — for instance, is there a particular specialty, culture, or gender identity they want?
  2. What options, for example, in-person or teletherapy, are accessible in their area?
  3. What type of mental health care does their insurance cover?
  4. What can they afford if they do not have health insurance?

Treatments may include a combination of therapy, medications, and other forms of support. Therapy, particularly talk therapy like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), teaches coping skills to handle stress, anxiety, and feelings of depression when they occur. Medications can help manage symptoms of more severe depression. Finally, talking with friends and family about mental health challenges creates a network of support that the young adult can turn to for help. This support network may even spot certain issues, like mood changes, that could signal the potential for a more significant problem.

Young adults should know that mental health challenges are not unusual as they confront the many changes and decisions that come with becoming an adult. Making the transition from childhood into adolescence and then young adulthood can be challenging. It is not only ok to ask for help, but it is the best thing someone can do if they suspect they might be dealing with a mental health challenge. Addressing the issue allows them to avoid negative consequences and reach their full potential.

Safe, Non-Judgemental Mental Health Treatment

Mental health disorders can affect everyone, but young adults seem to be particularly susceptible to mental health challenges since the pandemic. Our founders created Rising Phoenix to offer a safe, welcoming and nurturing environment where people are embraced, not judged, throughout their recovery. Contact us today if you or someone you know can benefit from a licensed mental health and substance abuse intensive outpatient program (IOP) in Scottsdale, Arizona.

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