Updated: Aug 11, 2018
Transitional Aged Youth, between the ages of 16 and 24, are one of the most difficult developmental stages and at high risk of developing mental health concerns including anxiety and depression. Many youth struggle with change as they transition from childhood to young adulthood. Based on my clinical experience and existing research, youth are under more pressure than ever before1. Research indicates that 63% of the millenials are at high risk for experiencing mental health concerns2.
There is not just one factor/cause for the rise in youth mental health; there are multiple factors. The various pressures youth experience are contributing factors to the increased risk of mental health concerns. External pressures include pressure to find their first job, pressure to excel in high school, so they can pursue post-secondary education, pressure to obtain their driving license, and pressure to fit in amongst their peers. Fortunately, with the increase in mental health awareness and decrease in mental health stigma, today's youth are more aware of their mental health concerns and are not ashamed of seeking professional help as compared to before.3
Social media is another huge contributing factor in the rise of youth mental health. Today’s youth live in two different worlds, the real world and the world of social media. Although there are many benefits of using social media, there are some disadvantages that can increase the risk of experiencing mental health concerns. Some of the negative aspects of social media are cyber-bullying, one's tendency to compare their lives to others as they scroll down their newsfeed on Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat, which negatively impacts their self-confidence and self-esteem. As a result, some youth constantly worry about their physical appearance, including weight and shape, school performance, and their future. Moreover, some youth believe they are not good enough when they compare themselves to their peers, disregarding their own accomplishments and strengths.
Long wait lists to seek professional help for mental health concerns is another factor for the rise in youth mental health. Youth often struggle in obtaining mental health services in a timely manner; as a result, their depressive and anxiety symptoms become acute.4 Many students delay seeking professional help for their mental health concerns until they start attending university/college.5 Hospitals and community mental health services can start to have a better streamline to triage urgent cases in a timely manner. In addition, schools should start to develop mental health workshops where they teach students cognitive and behavioural techniques to manage their symptoms associated with anxiety and depression. In order to prevent the escalation of mental health symptoms, which may lead to self-harming behaviours and/or suicide, it is imperative that mental health services become more accessible to youth.
1,3,4 Cribb, R., Ovid, N., Lao, D., & Bigham, B. (2017). Demand for youth mental health
services is exploding. How universities and business are scrambling to
2 Chai, C. (2017). Why more Canadian millennials than ever are at ‘high risk’ of
mental health issues. Global News. Retrieved from https://globalnews.ca/news/3417600/why-more-canadian-millennials-than-ever-are-at-high-risk-of-mental-health-issues/