With school re-openings in full swing (or not), there’s a lot of uncertainty for high school and college students about what this next year will look like. Some students have returned to their campuses, only to be told their classes will be held online. Some are cooped up at home, separated from their usual cohort of teachers and friends. There is still no clear path forward about how this pandemic may proceed, and when life will resemble some version of “normal” again.
2020 has been a rough year for everyone, but teens and young adults are among those hit hardest by mental health concerns. A recent CDC report of 5,400 people found that 25% of respondents between the age of 18-24 had contemplated suicide in the previous 30 days. Jennifer Rothman, senior manager of youth and young adult initiatives at the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) in Arlington, Virginia, notes that the NAMI hotline has seen a significant increase in calls over the last few months. “We’re hearing more calls about anxiety, a lot of stress and depression,” she says.
Active Minds, a nonprofit advocacy group supporting mental health education for students, has also reported some concerning statistics this year. A recent survey found that 80% of students have experienced some negative impact to their mental health due to the pandemic. 20% say their mental health has significantly worsened. Chief Program Officer Laura Horne explains that this is part of a larger trend showing an increase in depression and anxiety among young people in recent years.