More Young Adults Considering Suicide During Coronavirus Pandemic

More Young Adults Considering Suicide During Coronavirus Pandemic

As the Coronavirus has upended college students’ lives, their mental health has suffered. A recent study published by the CDC highlights some of the pandemic’s repercussions on various components of mental health, including increased thoughts of suicide and increased rates of anxiety and substance abuse. 

Using self-report measures, researchers surveyed 5,412 adults, 731 of whom were between the ages of 18 and 24, between June 24 and June 30, 2020. Of those 731 young adult respondents, 25.5% reported that they seriously considered suicide in the past month as a result of the pandemic. Those same young adult respondents also reported high rates of symptoms consistent with anxiety disorders (49.1%) and depressive disorders (52.3%), with 62.9% reporting symptoms of either anxiety, depression, or both. 

In addition to high levels of suicidal ideation, depression, and anxiety, 46% of young adults’ responses indicated the presence of a disorder related to a trauma or a stressor (i.e., posttraumatic stress disorder, acute stress disorder, or an adjustment disorder). Nearly 25% of the young adults increased their use of substances as a way of handling stress or emotions caused by the pandemic. 

Overall, three-quarters of young adults who participated in the survey reported one or more adverse mental or behavioral health symptoms that were caused by COVID-19 and related hardships. Survey data revealed mental and behavioral health symptoms occurring in much higher rates in young adults than in adults in any other age group. In addition to young adults, other groups who also reported higher rates of mental and behavioral health symptoms due to the pandemic were unpaid caregivers, essential workers, and Hispanic and Black respondents.  

The study’s authors stressed the importance of identifying groups of people who are more likely to experience distress and less likely to cope in a healthy way, and then ensuring those groups of people have enough resources to receive diagnoses and treatments. In particular, they noted that telehealth works well for mental health treatment and should be utilized to treat mental health conditions resulting from COVID-19. They also recommended using health promotion strategies to communicate effectively about prevention and available resources. 

College and university counseling centers and administrators are well aware of the increased mental health needs that their students, many of whom fall in the young adult age group, have been facing since the start of the pandemic. Christie Campus Health’s CONNECT@College program was in place before COVID-19 but contains several components that are relevant to mental health in the time of COVID, including 24/7 remote telephone support, telehealth services, an Internet-based cognitive behavioral training, and a customized student outreach plan. Please reach out to if you want to learn more about how our program can wrap around your school’s counseling center to provide more options for mental health services to more students.

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