Younger Adults’ Pandemic Psychological Well being Dangers

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Young Adults’ Pandemic Mental Health Risks

"Our college students are emerging adults," said Betty Lai, assistant professor of counseling psychology at the Lynch School of Education and Human Development at Boston College. At this age, you are still learning and finding out what you are doing, including the career you will pursue and “who are the people that you will have as part of your life in the long run? All of these important development tasks arise. "

The pandemic is changing their ways of finding out about these issues, and of course their ways of going to school, seeing their friends, and not living at home.

Dr. Lai examines mental health after disasters like Hurricane Katrina or the bombing of the Boston Marathon. She said that in a recent study of college students, 91 percent reported moderate to high stress and 39 percent reported moderate to severe anxiety, while 53 percent reported moderate to severe depression.

The current pandemic is "a breeding ground for mental disasters" with unprecedented risk factors. "This exposure time is longer than anything we've seen before," she said, and the social isolation makes things worse.

Some college students will be on campus this fall, but much of their study will be remote and they will face strict safety rules that limit social activity. Other students are at home for another semester. In either case, parents should look out for signs of stress and isolation. Stressors are increased, said Dr. Vinson, and many people find themselves without their usual coping skills.

This combination of uncertainty about their personal future and concern for the bigger future can leave some people without much hope or promise about what comes next. "Hopelessness is one of the big drivers of suicide," said Dr. Vinson. "It's usually not about wanting to be dead. It's about not wanting to live like that, whatever that is."

According to Dr. Vinson may also link suicide risk to impulsiveness. "We know that people often act more impulsively when using substances that make mental health problems worse."

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