Many 20-somethings spend so much of their time preoccupied with planning for the future that they often neglect what’s most important in the here and now: their health. Not just their physical health but their emotional and mental well-being as well.
In our twenties we face significant life changes that can create a lot of stress. Changing jobs, moving to new places, increasing financial burdens, and going through devastating breakups are all examples of significant life stressors. Sometimes these events can happen all at once (as was the case in my situation) and other times they happen independently. Although these are fairly common events they can also be triggers for mental health issues.
Some of the most common mental health issues that pop up in your twenties are bipolar disorder, major depression, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and generalized anxiety. Many studies show that these disorders lie dormant in our brains for extended periods of time and manifest only when triggered by major stressors in our lives. Many of us experience these major life stressors for the first time in our twenties.
When we lack healthy coping mechanisms, we may begin experimenting with drugs, alcohol, hypersexuality, and even self-mutilation as ways of dealing with the stress. Although experimentation is a normal part of our college years, continued use of hard substances and engaging in risky behaviors may speak to a larger issue that you need to deal with. This is particularly true if the behaviors are uncharacteristic to your personality. When others around us chalk up seemingly minor changes in our behavior to natural experimentation we may miss out on getting the help we need.
Many people don’t seek help out of denial, fear, and judgement. Others worry about the stigma attached to having a mental illness and whether insurance will cover psychiatric visits and medications. However, 20-somethings have the most access to mental health resources. College campuses provide services for free and most health insurance premiums cover basic mental health care services. If you don’t have health insurance and meet certain income thresholds, there are a variety of community services available to you at little to no cost. Use them!
Finding the courage to speak out about your difficulties and seek help if you feel like things are spinning out of control is a difficult task. I know this from experience. But confiding in someone you trust means you don’t have to suffer anymore. It puts you on the track to a healthier you that much quicker.