Young adulthood is supposed to be a time of healthy life transitions, celebrations, and self-discovery. However, two years of pandemic disruptions left many 18-25-year-olds feeling unsettled and more susceptible to anxiety, depression, and substance use.
As the pandemic continued, studies showed that young adults were among the most likely to be impacted by behavioral health concerns. At one point, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that almost two-thirds of this age group had symptoms of anxiety or depression, and one-fourth had increased substance use to deal with the stress.
Rosecrance experts attribute these impacts to the loss or delay of major cultural milestones, such as graduations, first jobs, and going away to college. Instead, when young adults normally would be finding healthy ways to develop a sense of self outside the immediate family, they often were back at home for online classes or jobs, while missing important face-to-face social opportunities.
“We are realizing how much these celebrations and transitions mean to us,” said Rosecrance Griffin Williamson Campus Medical Director Dr. Adrienne Adams. “We’re all social beings, and young adults especially need that interaction with peers to help discover a sense of self.”
Parents and other adults are encouraged to watch for signs of stress in their loved ones. This could be sudden low energy or motivation, a change in eating habits, social isolation, or a drop in grades. If a parent is concerned, the challenge is to share their concerns and offer resources while giving the young adult needed freedom. This may mean balancing the need to step back and let the person learn through failures while being there to listen and be supportive.
Young adults should take this opportunity to develop other supports. These could be new, healthy peer groups, or they could be resources such as a campus counselor. Rosecrance’s outpatient clinics offer a wide range of support services to help emerging adults make a successful life transition. In addition, individuals should establish routines for healthy eating, sleeping, exercise, and stress management as a foundation for life.
Last, parents and their young adult children should celebrate resiliency for overcoming challenges in the past that have prepared them for future life situations.
“Congratulate yourselves for getting through these past couple years,” said Dr. Tom Wright, Rosecrance Chief Medical Officer. “This has been tough on all of us, and we need to take time to honor the successes that have happened in spite it.”
The latest Rosecrance “On Your Radar” podcast features a discussion on the issues facing young adults as walk through life transitions in a pandemic.