Covid College: Rising Anxiety and Depression
A recent Huffington Post article points out that depression and anxiety were already at high levels among college students before Covid-19. For example, from 2007-2017 the suicide rate among adolescents and young adults increased 56%.
Now they are even more vulnerable to mental illness.
Classes moved online, and the social support system found at school has all but disappeared. Many students are spending more time cloistered in their homes doing sedentary activities. Others are ignoring social distancing guidelines and spreading the virus. The pressure on adolescents and young adults is quite high as schools and communities send mixed messages.
Hard Decisions, High Stress
“Schools are open but should I go?” “I’m on my own and I need money, but is it safe to work?” This cognitive dissonance and stress would create mental issues for anyone! Young adults are newly independent, entering the world in an unchartered day and age. This adds more confusion and distress to their situation.
In fact since the pandemic began five percent of college and high school students have reported suicide attempts. Over half have experienced elevated stress, and almost the same amount experienced high levels of anxiety. The problem is becoming severe as the school year continues and new complications arise. Mental health professionals are calling it the second epidemic as it looks like the numbers may only be increasing.
The Kids Are Alright
Images of beach parties and spring break reverie during lockdown are easy to come by. A lot of people blame college kids for spreading the virus.
However, articles have pointed out that most students are a bit more careful. Studies found that students stayed at home and adhered to guidelines after measures were enacted.
But there may be other ways young people are spreading the virus - notably, work. As the economy relies on our least vulnerable populations, they risk becoming sick or carriers themselves. This only adds to the pressure on college students and college-aged people.
4 Ways to Tend your Mental Health
Here are some ways you can stay resilient throughout this ever-changing college experience.
Socially distance - but be social! - Just because we need to wear masks and stand six feet apart doesn’t mean we can’t spend time together! Have a spread out picnic, take a walk with friends, or develop a trusted pod of friends who can visit each other and have game nights, movie nights, etc.
Avoid the news and social media - Of course, don’t neglect your distant friends and relatives. And certainly don’t ignore safety guidelines! Instead, reduce your intake of negative news stories and social media content. Focus on knowing what you need to know, and then move along to more pleasant productive things.
Self-Care is Key - Eat a nutritious diet, move your body, and get decent sleep (that means 7-8 hours for most people!) Our bodies and minds are connected, after all the brain is an organ. The better your physical health, the better your mental health.
Reach out if you need to - If the stress and uncertainty become too much, don’t be afraid to reach out for some extra help. Perhaps this means a close friend or family member, but you may also need treatment from a trusted mental health professional. Many people have consulted with a psychiatrist or psychologist in these hard times. Good mental health treatment makes a huge difference in quality of life through adversity!
Finally, if you or someone you know has expressed a desire to harm themselves or commit suicide, please reach out for professional help. Whether that is a local doctor, a school counselor, or a suicide hotline, asking for help can make a world of difference.
Remember there is hope. These uncertain times won’t last forever. With some self-care and outside assistance, we can get through anything with positivity and resilience.
NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION HOTLINE:
Sometimes a bit of advice is not enough to help you through an emotionally difficult situation. In these situations please reach out to a trusted mental health professional. Bregman Medical Group has decades of experience treating stress, anxiety, and many other disorders. We offer treatment right to your smartphone or computer! Simply schedule an appointment at www.bregmanmd.com/appointment or call 305-740-3340.