LAUSD's School Mental Health program offers support to students amid a pandemic. (High School Insider)
The Literacy Guild

Opinion: We need to take care of young adults’ mental health

Young adults, transitioning from childhood to taking on the responsibilities of an adult, experience many changes that often are forgotten in the everyday lives of the rest of the society. 

Investing in the Health and Well-Being of Young Adults, written by The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, provides an in-depth explanation of the importance in ensuring that young adults are sufficiently suited to transition to full adulthood. In my opinion, the biggest obstacle young adults are facing is the lack of awareness in the subject of mental health. Potential steps that can be taken to address this societal issue include removing the stigma against mental illness and providing young adults with sufficient resources when dealing with mental health challenges. 

Firstly, it is crucial to explain the importance of valuing the subject of mental health through providing those struggling with their mental health a safe environment to speak out and removing the stigma against mental illness. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly one in five adults living in the United States live with a mental health issue. One in five adults is practically twenty percent of the population of adults living in the United States, yet, according to Teen Mental Health, only four percent of the country’s total healthcare budget is spent on mental health.

Having awareness is not only impactful on your own well-being — it provides those who are living with mental health issues a safe environment to speak out about their mental health and to feel comfortable receiving medical assistance without being uncomfortable sharing their mental health issues with professionals. 

Due to the negative stigma against mental illness, many young adults often live with mental illnesses, but choose not to seek help from medical professionals.

The National Academies explains “the stigma attached to having a behavioral health disorder is one important impediment to help seeking by young people, and reducing stigma also is one of the major policy approaches proposed for reducing levels of unmet need for mental health services.” 

This only further proves how important  awareness of mental health in our society is. If the society continues its ways of spreading negativity towards the subject of mental health, the crisis of mental illness in young adults will only continue to worsen. 

In addition to removing the negative stigma towards mental illness, another way of increasing awareness on the subject of mental health is through providing young adults with sufficient resources when dealing with their mental health. 

Much of the time, young adults fail to receive medical assistance for physical and mental illnesses that they have been dealing with since childhood.

According to the National Academies, there has been minimal systematic implementation and evaluation of institutional change to address concerns about the increasing numbers of pediatric patients with chronic conditions who are now living into adulthood.”

Chronic conditions often stay with patients for the rest of their lives, making it crucial for there to be medical professionals who are trained to help with these conditions throughout the entirety of one’s life. With an increase of knowledge and understanding in young adults’ mental health, there will be a much higher chance of those who are struggling with mental illness to receive the help and care they deserve. 

Providing an education in the subject of mental health and mental illness can be done in a variety of ways. A simple, yet impactful way to implement mental health education is through teaching about mental health in schools, so that children are taught to value their mental health just as much as their physical health even from a young age.

Exposing children to the topic of mental health from a young age would benefit the students in the long run. Parents, seeing their children being taught about the importance of caring for the mental health of themselves and of others, will realize that mental illness is not something that should be seen or valued as a negative abnormality. Instead, it will hopefully become a “normal” subject to speak about, just like any other topic one would learn about at school, such as language arts and science. 

Another important way to spread education about valuing mental health would be through having those already deeply invested in mental health, such as psychiatrists, psychologists, and those who have experienced mental illnesses, to educate others regarding this subject.

Through doing this, everyday people will be more aware of their own mental health and the mental health of others. Not only will this allow for people to know when and how to seek assistance regarding mental health, it provides a sense of comfort to speak out and ask for help when needed. Educating people about the importance of caring for one’s mental health will only help the overall well-being of this society.

Valuing the mental health of young adults is crucial in order for young adults to live their lives to the fullest, without having the concerns of receiving negativity due to the state of their mental health or worrying that they may not get the medical assistance they may need for their mental health. Young adults should not have to worry about this, especially considering the fact that they are going through the complex transition from childhood to adulthood.

Although there is a lack of awareness in young adults’ mental health, two impactful steps that should be taken to increase understanding of this topic are: removing the stigma against mental illness and providing young adults with sufficient resources when dealing with mental health. Taking these steps towards a safe and knowledgeable environment on the subject of mental health will only change our society for the better.