Under Pressure: How Social Media, Drugs and the Changing Sexuality Landscape Challenge the Mental Health of Younger Generations


It’s hard to overstate how much the pandemic is changing the lives of young adults. School closures, distance learning and working, and loss of income and jobs are just some of the pandemic’s ripple effects that have exacerbated mental health issues among a vulnerable population .

Since the onset of COVID-19, 56% of young adults aged 18 to 24 report symptoms of anxiety or depression.

Kaiser Family Foundation

Since the onset of COVID-19, 56% of young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 report symptoms of anxiety or depression, according to a report by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), members of Generation Z reporting the levels highest stress levels compared to other generations, reports the APA. And while the pandemic may have temporarily restricted young people’s access to certain substances, the KFF report says young adults are also 12% more likely than other age groups to report substance abuse.

“The pandemic has shaken the ability of adolescents and young adults to individualize and develop,” said Courtney Tracy, PsyD, a licensed clinical social worker, psychologist and social media influencer based in Laguna Beach, Calif. “Without this ability all kinds of mental health issues arise, such as shame, anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, anger, and confusion.”

These challenges highlight how crucial it is for young people to have a strong support network to boost their self-esteem and help them cope, but research also shows that young adults today, more than other age groups struggle to find a community: a Cigna 2020 survey found that 73% of Generation Z respondents sometimes or always feel lonely.

“The rise of loneliness is a significant stressor that has impacted this generation,” says Kojo Sarfo, DNP, a 28-year-old psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner and Los Angeles-based social media influencer. “Many of us are isolated away from our loved ones. It is difficult to have a sense of community and to feel connected when we rely exclusively on technology for that connection.

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Dr Tracy adds that the pressure to look ‘good’ on social media fortunately hasn’t been too intense during the pandemic – in fact, young people have found the community struggling – but other challenges have arisen. “The new pressures include developing a sense of self while being locked away in your home, maintaining an interest in education and maintaining grades while moving from teaching online to teaching online. nobody, ”she said. “This generation will never be what it would have been if the pandemic hadn’t happened, for better or for worse.”

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