Youth mental health is a growing concern in our society. In 2021, the CDC reported that over a third of high school students experienced poor mental health during the pandemic. 44% said they felt “sad or hopeless” over the course of the year. Even as the pandemic wanes, the aftermath and its effects remain with us. Mental illnesses have been on the rise for years, but rapid changes in our society have had a drastic effect on young people. Right now, we are in the middle of a youth mental health crisis that is being recognized by medical professionals, educators, and government bodies.
There are many issues that need to be addressed to improve this situation, but awareness is a vital first step. Young people today are facing a unique set of challenges, and there is much that needs to be done to help them in their journey to adulthood. Here, we’ll examine what those challenges are and discuss ways to overcome them.
Youth Mental Health Concerns in Today’s Society
The Impact of Social Media
In a study of 750 17-year-olds, the Pew Research Center found that 97% use at least one social media platform. While social media provides a way to connect with others, it’s also known to have harmful effects on adolescents. A platform like Instagram and TikTok is designed to be addictive, and posting on these platforms activates the same part of the brain that is active when taking an addictive substance. Hours of screen time can cause sleep problems, depression, anxiety, and other health concerns.
On social media, young people are presented with an alternate reality where others always seem to have more interesting, exciting lives. Additionally, the number of “likes” and “followers” a teen receives can negatively affect their self-esteem. Social media has become the norm, and it’s not easy to avoid entirely. However, parents can have open discussions with their children to ensure they spend a limited amount of time on social media. It’s also important for kids to know that images others post aren’t reflective of reality.
Bullying and Violent Events at School
Increasing violence in schools has had a significant impact on youth mental health in recent years. Today, bullying can be done virtually without parents’ knowledge, which is a major concern. In the aftermath of a global pandemic, students have also had to bear witness to several mass shooting events across the nation. Acts of senseless violence can make teens and young adults afraid to go to school and get an education. Whenever these events occur, it is natural for anyone to feel anxious about going to school.
This is something kids should never have to fear, and it’s a growing youth mental health concern. Again, it’s best to sit down with the young person in your life and let them discuss their feelings openly. While this doesn’t solve the root of the problem, it can help young people come to terms with their own fears and anxieties.
Isolation in the Post-COVID World
During COVID-19, kids across the country had to accomplish much of their schoolwork outside of the classroom. Then, when the school day was over, they spent more time indoors to protect themselves and their family members. As a result, some kids experienced a sense of separation from their friends, increased feelings of isolation, and a lack of engagement during class. Now, they have to adjust all over again as they return to in-person activities. During this time, it may be helpful to consider therapy or a youth mentor for your child. This gives them the opportunity to process what they’ve experienced and move forward with confidence. It also allows the young person in your life to feel supported, and know that they aren’t alone.
Partner with Lead4Life, Inc. Today to Learn More about Youth Mental Health
At Lead4Life, we strive to empower every participant in our programs so that they may find their purpose, achieve their goals, and become poised, productive members of their community. We advocate for those in need and assist each and every individual by providing compassionate education and valuable resources like mental health tips so that they can make the very best decisions and develop important life, social, and competency skills. Visit our website for more information about youth mental health or contact us at 240-499-8949.