Youth and young adults are at profound risk for suffering emotionally and mentally, not because they are somehow less resilient than older generations, but due to our recent global catastrophes and the social environment in which we live. A recent CDC report found that 1 in 3 teen girls have seriously considered suicide. More than one in five LGBTQIA+ youth had attempted suicide in the previous year. And worse yet, over half of young people think humanity is “doomed.”
In an age of isolation and existential threats—whether it be the collapse of natural ecosystems or anti-trans legislation—youth and young adults have been shaped by loneliness and injustice.
Fortunately, there are ways to ease this mental health crisis. As Dr. Noam Shpancer points out, individuals with close friends or family members are ten times less likely to have mental health problems. We know, of course that spirituality matters, too. Building strong networks of mutual support—like Stephen Ministries—and exploring sources of meaning, purpose, identity, and integration can all play an important role in our wellbeing.
This May, set aside time to critically examine the factors leading to our present mental health epidemic, not just with your intellect, but also by reflecting on your own lived experiences of mental health and adolescence. And just as critically, draw a friend or loved one a little closer.
Statistics from “The State Of Youth Mental Health,” by Noam Shpancer, Ph.D. in Psychology Today (May/June 2023).