Guys, the Struggle Is Real: Your Mental Health Matters
If you feel like the weight of the world is pressing down on you, you aren’t alone.
In 2021, SAMHSA reported that young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 had the highest prevalence of any mental illness (any mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder, regardless of severity).
Every third person you pass on campus, every third friend in your social media feed, every third fellow high school graduate trying to make it in a new and overwhelming world—33.7% of all 18-25 year olds are carrying silent burdens.
And only 44.6% of those people received mental health services in 2021.
What Kinds of Issues Are Young Men Facing?
Some of the most common mental health issues men in this age range are facing include:
- Anxiety disorders
- Substance misuse
- Body image issues
- Identity and self-esteem issues
- Social isolation and loneliness
- Relationship challenges
- Academic pressure
- Financial stress
These issues can affect any generation, but they seem to be particularly prevalent for young men between the ages of 18 and 25.
Maybe you’re feeling pressure to live up to and curate a life that matches the images and lifestyles you see on social media.
Maybe economic uncertainty surrounding career prospects or student loan debt are contributing to stress and anxiety about the future.
Even though you’re connected digitally all day and night, you can’t help but feel disconnected and alone.
Family relationships have changed, you have (or don’t have) a serious partner, you are (or aren’t) making major life decisions, and your friend groups have evolved or completely turned over. Maybe you don’t even see those people anymore.
New jobs in the adult world following high school or college have made it difficult to maintain a healthy work-life balance. What does that even mean?
Maybe the changing landscape surrounding traditional gender roles has left you feeling unsure about what society expects of you. How are you supposed to behave? What is your role? Who are you, really?
And don’t even mention the barrage of constant news, wars and rumors of wars, raging political opinions, and melting ice caps.
But Doesn’t Everyone Feel This Way?
Everyone feels anxious, overwhelmed, or depressed at some point in their life. These are common human experiences.
There are a lot of reasons why you might be feeling anxious, irritable, stressed, worried, or angry.
But that doesn’t mean you need to feel this way all of the time. That doesn’t mean you have to stay in those emotions. That doesn’t mean those emotional reactions have to rule your life.
Your emotions aren’t bad, and they aren’t anything to be ashamed about. But when you try to carry those burdens by yourself for too long, they can build up and start negatively affecting your day-to-day life.
Resources to Support Your Mental Health
There are lots of things you can do to support your own mental health. Here are a few simple places you can start that can make a world of difference for how you’re feeling:
- Talk about it. Remember, a third of your peers are likely also dealing with similar thoughts and emotions. Just talking to someone can be a powerful way to alleviate stress. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to a friend or family member, you might seek out a mental health professional, pastor, or counselor.
- Eat, sleep, and move your body. Your diet and your sleep affect your mental health in substantial ways. Establish a regular sleep schedule, maintain a balanced diet, and make time for physical activities.
- Disconnect from screens. You don’t have to go cold turkey, but take a break from social media and other streaming content services every once in a while. Set boundaries for yourself and unplug regularly to engage in the non-digital world.
- Connect with people. All that time you gain from reducing your screen time can go into maintaining and cultivating real-life relationships, face-to-face. We are social beings. We need to be with each other.
Oh, and Also, You Can Seek Professional Help
If you feel like you’re in a rut you can’t get out of, there’s no shame in seeking help from a mental health professional. Therapists can provide you with a wealth of tools and coping mechanisms that can help you manage stress and navigate your mental health concerns.
Counselors aren’t going to pick your brain and make you go somewhere you don’t want to go. They’re there to hear you out, help you sort through your thoughts, and offer you a few tips for finding your way forward.
They’re basically your professional friend.
And, remember, you’re absolutely not alone.