World Mental Health Day
Young Adults In A Changing World
Celebrated annually on October 10th, World Mental Health Day raises awareness on mental health issues across the globe. This year’s theme, “Young Adults In A Changing World” brings attention to the mental health issues that are most prevalent among “20-somethings”.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “half of all mental illness begin by the age of 14.” While suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year-olds, depression is the third leading cause of burden associated with mental illness. Eating disorders are also of concern.
Mental illness and young adults
Associate Professor of Medical Psychology at Columbia University, Randy P. Auerbach and colleagues found that one in three college freshman reports diagnosable mental disorder symptoms such as depression and anxiety. Using data from World Health Organization’s World Mental Health International College Student Initiative, the researchers analyzed data from 14,000 students attending 19 colleges across Australia, Belgium, Germany, Mexico, Northern Ireland, South Africa, Spain and the United States.
Auerbach reports, “The finding that one-third of students from multiple countries screened positive for at least one of six mental health disorders represents a key global mental health issue.” The main concern associated with this finding is that only 15-20 per cent of students seek help from their school counsellors.
Mental resilience is key
People of all ages go through negative life events (i.e., loss of a loved one, financial issues, physical injury and/or illness) at some point in their lives yet only some experience a full-blown mental illness like generalized anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder. Moreover, these life events do not necessarily have to be negative to have an impact on one’s mental health. Positive life events such as going off to college and moving can also be stressful.
Most people usually adapt and overcome the challenges they are faced with. However, a “breakdown” happens when the needs exceed the resources to cope with stressful life events. In those situations, building mental resilience is key.
Resilience is defined as “ the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress.” In another word, resiliency is the ability to “bounce back” from life’s difficulties.
Resiliency is built upon:
- Relationships that are nourishing and supportive
- The ability to take on multiple perspectives about a stressful event
- Acceptance of situations that cannot be controlled
- Using setbacks as opportunities for self-discovery and personal growth
- The ability to nurture one’s own needs – self-care
In a world where the connection is defined by the strength of WiFi signals and success is two parts multitasking and one part coffee, taking care of our mental health is more important than ever. World Mental Health Day is a reminder to shine a light on the shame and stigma associated with mental illnesses and focus on understanding, accepting and showing compassion for the challenges that we all face.