NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. -- According to data published Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, young adults ages 18-24 are among the groups disproportionately affected by the mental health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
What You Need To Know
- CDC data: 40% of Americans surveyed reported struggling with mental health issues or substance abuse related to COVID-19
- Issues included anxiety and depression, trauma/stressor disorder, and seriously considering suicide
- Young adults, racial/ethnic minorities, and essential workers among groups disproportionately impacted
Data showed that 40% of Americans surveyed during the last week of June reported struggling with issues including anxiety/depression (31%), trauma/stressor related disorder (26%), starting or increasing substance use (13%), and seriously considering suicide (11%).
Along with younger adults, racial and ethnic minorities, essential workers, and unpaid adult caregivers also reported a disproportionately high impact.
"You're in an isolated state, and you're not interacting with others," said mental health counselor Eddie Williams of one of the challenges the pandemic has presented for mental health.
As director of Pasco-Hernando State College's Social and Human Services program, Williams works with many students in that younger adult age group.
"If you have any type of pre-existing mental health issues and you're not interacting with others, that's going to compound it because you're talking to yourself. Usually, individuals with depression or anxiety, they're telling themselves negative things. If they're interacting with others, normally they can discount those negative things," Williams said.
With some college students returning to virtual learning in the upcoming fall semester, Williams said that feeling of isolation could continue. He suggests students seek out opportunities to connect within their classes.
"What I do with the students is, I have Zoom meetings with them, and I make sure that we interact," said Williams. "I give activities that they can interact with each other."
Students can also check what activities their school is offering virtually. Williams said it's also important to stick to pre-pandemic routines where possible.
"You could still go out for a walk, you know, a bike ride. Just make it a routine. I think once you start losing your routine, and then you're afraid also to go out, then it causes some mental health issues," he said.
He also said students should check what resources are offered by their schools. For example, he said PHSC has a partnership with BayCare that can connect students with someone they can talk with for free. Williams said a good resource for students anywhere is 211, a free and confidential service from the United Way that can connect them with resources in the community.
According to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, signs that someone may be considering suicide can include acting anxious or agitated or behaving recklessly, looking for a way to kill themselves, talking about wanting to die or kill themselves, and increasing the use of alcohol or drugs. For more information or if you or someone you know is considering suicide, call the Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org.