The Mental Health Crisis

There is absolutely no question that there is a mental-health crisis in America today, and it has been on the rise particularly in the last decade. When considering past generations’ mental health, it is very clear that adolescents have gotten more anxious and depressed over time. Older generations, of course, had to deal with mental illness, but our current generation seems to be getting worse every year. For instance, studies have shown that the average high school student today has the level of anxiety that a psychiatric patient had in the 1950’s. With these climbing rates of anxiety and depression, our nation will eventually have to address the situation and accept the facts.

            The list of facts and statistics proving the deteriorating mental health of adolescents could go on and on.

What is causing this?

 If you asked any adult this question, they would probably respond, “Those dang phones.” And, while there is a lot of truth to that statement, the causes of the Mental Health Crisis are a lot more complex. Some of the main reasons for mental illnesses throughout the ages include brain chemistry, genetics, environmental factors, low self-esteem, medical issues, childhood trauma, and much more. These all seem to be reasonable causes for mental illnesses. But, why has it gotten so much worse?  Here are some of my thoughts.

Social media

 It’s a mindless thing, social media. Most of us pick up our phones and scroll through Instagram or Facebook out of boredom, simply seeking an entertaining past-time. What is not so apparent at first, however, is the negative content being poured into our brains every single day. Any time I open a social media, I immediately am bombarded with posts of girls with “perfect” (AKA photoshopped) bodies, memes about how awful the world is, constant inappropriate jokes, etc. When a young person is being exposed to this negative content at such an impressionable and vulnerable age, they are going to start forming their mindset around the toxic beliefs and opinions of others on the internet. 

In addition, young adults stressing themselves out by worrying about body image, likes and comments, and followers, all at a higher risk of becoming a cyberbullying victim. Teens are simply relying on social media too much for validation and it is in turn affecting their mental health. A small study conducted on teens aged 13-18 by the UCLA Brain Mapping Center found that receiving a “like” increased activity in the reward center of the brain!

High expectations

 I strongly believe the stress being placed on our younger generation has a direct link to mental illness. Not only has social media negatively impacted our lives, but the added pressure of getting good grades in a rigid environment like public school is definitely connected to anxiety and depression levels. The National Center for Education Statistics studied high school transcripts from 2009 and found that high school seniors were taking an average of 27.2 credits, as opposed to the 23.6 credits earned by seniors in 1990. Not only were high school seniors in 2009 taking more classes, they were also taking harder classes. To add to this stress, we also have to worry about getting into college, how we’re going to pay for it, if we’ll graduate and find a job, and then how we’ll pay off the student loans. Not that older generations didn’t fret about such things, but college has gotten much more competitive and expensive. Juggling the troubles of school, doing homework, maintaining a social life, getting enough sleep, eating and exercising properly, getting family time, and being expected to stay stress-free is insane.

Ageism

 This is a topic that not many people like to talk about, but I believe it influences most young adults. To put it bluntly, some old people can be mean. And very negative. Not only do we have to strive to meet peoples’ high expectations, but we also have to listen to many elderly people openly express their belief that this generation is a failure. The way numerous elders view my generation is that we are all dumb, ignorant, entitled, rude, and even weak. Ageism refers to prejudice or discrimination based on someone’s age, and, believe it or not, teens deal with it every day.

With an already stressful, anxiety-filled life, we honestly need all the support and positivity we can get. We don’t want to feel like failures before we even have a chance to succeed. Not to mention, the discrimination and stereotyping is really not great for those already suffering with a mental illness. Here’s a great article I found on ageism: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/what_happens_when_old_and_young_connect

 These were just a few of my opinions on some conditions that may be affecting young adults’ well-being. There are so many other factors involved, but these are the points that came to mind. Now, the question remains: What can we do about it? I will be discussing some possible ways we can improve adolescent mental-health in my next blog post, and I hope you stick around to hear some of my ideas!

5 thoughts on “The Mental Health Crisis

  1. alidware says:

    You make valid points; young people today are under substantially more stress than their parents were. And kids today are probably under more stress than I was when I was a kid, and I’m only 24.

    And so the question becomes is it really mental health issues on the rise? What other variables are factors of anxiety and depression other than mental health issues? And are we going to actually tackle these factors rather than just toss around diagnosis from kid to kid? Especially when the majority of these kids are getting treated with medication that hasn’t been researched for that use? Give it another 50 years, and 70% of the population will have some kind of diagnosis. And all the pharmaceutical companies will have merged lol

    I’m in a psychological research course right now, and my professor cited that “childhood bipolar” diagnosis has gone up 4000 percent in the last decade. (He cited it in response to the rampant med push and fraud in medical science).

    So there has to be this weird balance of actually caring for our children and young people (and everyone really) who are struggling, really listening to them and being with them and teaching them how to talk to others, showing them real, true compassion, while also being highly aware of the business environment of medical science.

    I’ve had anxiety since I can remember, as a toddler, but then again I grew up around alcohol, drugs, and violence 24/7. I would be worried if I HADN’T been anxious lol. Been through multiple diagnosis, on multiple meds, hospitalizations, e.t.c. So I’m not just coming on here talking out of my ass lol.

    Anyway, thank you for putting the word out that we need to pay attention to this. Sorry for the long comment lol!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Kylee says:

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting! Your reply was so informative and interesting! I definitely believe that pharmaceutical companies have taken advantage of the ever-expanding knowledge and research of mental disorders and medications. Another factor these companies may be using to their advantage is the recent uprising in mental health awareness and the lack of knowledge of the general public in regards to the necessity of medication. It really is a fine line between “Do I need this medication?” or “Are these just psychological responses that I need to work through?” Either way, you’re so right in saying that we must show our young people compassion and kindness in any way possible! Kindness can go a long way. Also, I watched a documentary not long ago called The Age of Anxiety directed by Scott Harper that you might enjoy. It’s all about everything that we’re talking about now! Thanks again for supporting the blog!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. alidware says:

        Agreed! And it sucks the general public doesn’t have access to actual research, or they’d see the conclusions are actually the exact opposite of what they read on the internet lol. Thanks for the Docu recommendation! I’ll check it out 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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