Covering the Fallout of COVID on Young Adult Mental Health

A recent CDC survey of young adults ages 18 to 24 taken during the pandemic showed that 25 percent of them had seriously considered suicide during the prior 30 days. Think of that astounding and alarming finding. One quarter of our young adults were desperate enough to contemplate ending their lives. The pandemic added another painful layer onto the lives of young adults who already are struggling to cope in what has become a troubled and often dangerous world. This has taken a toll on their parents as well. Unlike children struggling with mental health issues, it can be harder to help their young adults when they see signs of trouble. Many young adults don’t live with their parents or even near them. They may shrug off a parent’s words of concern and suggestions to get help with their mental health challenges. I was heartened when my editor at The New York Times realized this issue and suggested that I write a piece that will help parents help their adult child and navigate this often tricky terrain. The result was this piece which provides ways to gently broach the conversation in a way that young adults will listen. I was particularly impressed by the thoughtful comments on the piece which provided even more valuable suggestions and insights. Even though the pandemic is abating, there will no doubt be long-term impacts on this very vulnerable population of young people, so this problem shows no signs of going away any time soon. As the parent of young adults, I learned a great deal from researching this article and I hope it’s helpful to others as well.