Is the Mental Health Pandemic Here to Stay?
The next global pandemic is here, and it's not what we expected. Mental health is at a tipping point in the United States and the world. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders began steadily trending upward. With one global pandemic slowly moving into the scope of our rearview mirror, another timely and urgent pandemic has prevailed: mental health.
Understanding the Catalysts of the Mental Health Pandemic
The rise in individuals battling mental health issues is not a new trajectory. In a 2017 study conducted by the American Psychological Association, findings reported a 63 percent increase from 2005 to 2017 in young adults ages 18 to 25 experiencing symptoms of major depression.1 This was three years before the global pandemic that would turn our world upside down and would trigger those numbers to increase further.
The COVID-19 pandemic did a number on our mental health as a society. Being isolated from friends and family, suffering insurmountable losses, and losing our jobs, the odds were stacked high against us. Now, on the tailcoats of the pandemic, many are still struggling to adapt to a new normal. Social anxiety among young adults has grown exponentially. In a 2021 study commissioned by Morgan Stanely, 62 percent of 18-year-olds from a pool of 516 U.S. teens reported concern about experiencing social anxiety following the COVID-19 pandemic.2 Mental health struggles are prevalent and pervasive in our society and have been for most of our history. The only difference now is that, thankfully, we actually talk about them.
What Now? The Path Forward in the Mental Health Pandemic
I don't know what the future holds regarding the mental health crisis. I can't pretend to have all the answers becomes none of us do. What we do have, however, is our voice. We can spread awareness, fight stigma, and do our part the best way we know how. In terms of our individual mental health, we have the power to seek help, to change the trajectory of our story.
With that said, when we look at mental health as this enormous, overarching concept, it can be overwhelming, and the road can feel neverending. When I feel these emotions creep in, one thing that helps me is breaking it down into one action, task, or next step. I ask myself not, "How can I overcome this?" but, "What is the next step I need to take to put myself on the path to overcome this?"
If you add up enough right next steps, you are well on your way to conquering the more significant issue, whatever that may be. Progression is well within reach, and you may be further along than you are giving yourself credit for.
Lastly, I encourage you not to lose sight of the fact that we are all in this together. The mental health pandemic affects many of us, and unity is better than isolation. Check in with your colleagues, friends, and loved ones. Let them know they are not alone, and remind yourself of that fact while you're at it.
Sliwa, J. (2019, March 14). Mental Health Issues Increased Significantly in Young Adults Over Last Decade. American Psychological Association. https://www.scribbr.com/citation/generator/cite/webpage/
Morgan Stanley. (n.d.). Social Anxiety in Teens: Post-Pandemic Survey. Retrieved October 12, 2022, from https://www.morganstanley.com/press-releases/reemergence-program-us-teens-social-anxiety-survey-post-pandemic
Jack, J. (2022, October 13). Is the Mental Health Pandemic Here to Stay?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, February 3 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/survivingmentalhealthstigma/2022/10/is-the-mental-health-pandemic-here-to-stay