Dream of building a strong nation? Time to focus on young people’s mental health

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As per GGD GHOR Nederland’s survey, among 16- to 25-year-olds in the Netherlands, one out of five felt depressed and/or had suicidal thoughts about ending their lives during the Covid period. The aftermath of the pandemic is still felt, and continues to impact the mental health and well-being of children and youth for years. The survey filled out by more than 50,000 young adults from April to August 2022.

It was noted that throughout the pandemic, young adults had limited access to support from social services due to Covid measures. Loneliness, uncertainty and negative thoughts triggered by Covid left each of us angry, afraid and stressed. The pandemic not only blanketed everyone with the fear of getting infected, lockdowns, death of loved ones, working from home, online classes, financial crisis, and job losses, but also brought a growing mental health crisis to our notice. Young adults were no exception. In fact, they are the ones who are still feeling the highest impact. They seem reluctant to seek support for mental stress, or find it difficult to access. According to the latest available estimates, one out of seven young adults globally is estimated to experience some form of mental illness as depression, substance abuse, mood disturbances, eating disorders and suicidal behaviors.

Today’s youth will be tomorrow’s builders, creators, leaders, investors and guides. Thus, contributing to their well-being can prove to be one of the significant endeveours. As any other developmental priority, paying attention to youth mental health can be a great driving force for socioeconomic progress. Now that the world has begun taking baby steps to return to normal after a gap of almost two years, it is crucial to keep an eye on any signs of mental health issues amongst children and young adults and provide immediate help in case of need.

Situations cannot be improved overnight or by an individual’s efforts. We as a society must come forward to mobilize efforts in support of mental health. We all must realize the importance of raising awareness and sharing resources with anyone affected by mental illness, so that everyone can live a healthy, fulfilling life.

Following are some the effective ways to show support to others who are struggling.

Time is the key
People suffering from mental stress often are not ready to talk about their feelings. Time and space are two magic pills that can help them to open up about mental health.

Listening works magically
If you wish to make a big impact, allow your friends or loved ones to discuss their feelings in an open environment. Don’t just hear the words the other person is saying. Try to listen to the message that they are trying to communicate.

Encouragement is infectious
Mental illness can make people feel isolated and misunderstood. Due to stigma, many people hesitate to talk about mental health. A few words of encouragement – ‘I am here no matter what’ or ‘help is available’ – can go a long way to help them feel better and actively do something about it.

Offer help
Avoid diagnosing or giving them advice beyond your knowledge – let professionals take command. Just listen to them, let them know that you are always available and love them no matter what. Forcing treatment can make things worse, but remember to seek immediate help if they are showing reluctance to get better or having suicidal thoughts. If you feel there is a risk of immediate danger or anyone suffering from depression, you can call Suicide Prevention on 0800-0113 any time.

Keep a continuous check on them
Invite them to events or simple hangouts so they feel inclusive and welcoming. The more alone time they have, the more depressing thoughts will haunt their minds.

Provide resources to seek professional help
If your loved one is willing to seek help, be available with all the resources they would need.

Written by Parul Sachdeva