Picture it. Lights flashing. Parents cheering. You’re handed a shiny, new diploma and told that the world is your oyster. Like many others fresh out of high school or college, you may find yourself asking, “Where do I go from here?” The truth is that most graduates don’t know.
For young adults aged 18 through 23, such pivotal moments of transition can be nerve-wracking, to say the least. One minute you’re in grade school without a care in the world, and it can feel as if by the next minute you’re expected to shop for your own clothes, prep your meals, plus balance a job, bills, dating, friends, and other responsibilities. It’s no wonder why the World Health Organization in 2021 ranked depression and anxiety among the top causes of illness and disability in adolescents.
In this post-COVID-19 society, mental health for young adults in transition ages has never been more important, especially for young adults who experience significant life changes. Young adults today are facing more pressures than ever before, and without proper mental health care they may be left carrying invisible scars.
I was working with a person who just graduated from high school. He had accomplished becoming the head drum major for the school band and receiving a full theatre scholarship to an out-of-state college. However, he could not fully accept his accomplishments due to carrying guilt for moving out of his aunt’s public housing unit. Somehow, he felt unworthy of successfully accomplishing these goals and worried that he was leaving his family behind.
Looking back at my own young adulthood, I’m sad to admit that I didn’t take my own mental health seriously. I shrugged off my anxiety and told myself that I just needed to pull it together. But I needed help. Then I found my therapist through an online directory, and she helped me to realize that a lot of the concerns I’d been trying to shrug off were legitimate mental health issues.
You may be wondering if you should be thinking about your mental health. The answer is yes. While mental health care can look different for every young adult, it is important to know when it’s time to talk to someone. Consider the three things listed below, if you’re thinking about talking to someone regarding your mental health:
1. Do I often have negative thoughts that feel overwhelming?
2. Am I struggling to find the words to express how I feel?
3. Am I lacking motivation to complete various tasks?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, it might be a good idea to find a therapist near you. Start by checking out a therapist directory, such as Psychology Today or Therapy Den. Even if you answered no, you don’t need to be concerned about your mental health to decide that you want to talk to someone. Mental health checkups are a great way to get established with a therapist and prevent future issues.
Azaleah Bilal, BA, has worked for more than eight years in social services, with experience in forensic social work as well as assisting psychiatric residential, elderly and disabled, children and families, and hospital populations. She desires to use her talents to educate her community on the importance of mental health. Leah is happily married and the mother of a year-old Maltese named Shooter.
Meredith Lewis, PhD, LICSW-S, has worked for more than 19 years with teens and families in therapeutic foster care, substance use, and in the mental health outpatient setting. She is a mother of teenage sons, and her passion is to address symptoms of depression and anxiety.