Mental Health Implications of COVID-19 in Young Adults

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Claudia Manzano Herrera, a second-year medical student at UNIBE (Universidad Iberoamericana), located in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. She is affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


Mental wellbeing is a health aspect that is often overlooked because there might be no visible signs associated with it. Mental health issues are real and can influence a learner’s academic performance, the human immune system, and social functioning in general. These are reasons to evaluate how unprecedented changes in society might impact human mindfulness. It became a fact in 2020 that individuals from all ages and regions were concerned with the pandemic situation, college students are not an exception. 

In the United States, there have been rapid changes due to the coronavirus-19 pandemic. For some of us, adapting to new situations became challenging. For instance, some universities changed their face-to-face classes to virtual sessions, limiting social interactions for students. Similar restrictions triggered anxiety and depressive states among students. This concerning issue calls for further research and intervention to prevent undesirable health consequences. 

 Those aged 18-24, as mentioned by CDC, are among the groups of people reporting more mental health conditions compared with the general population (Czeisler, 2020). Some young individuals began their careers or started to look for a new job during this time. With the pandemic closing a handful of restaurants, small businesses, and shops, millions struggled to afford their food, medical supplies, and paying bills. Others had to embrace online schooling which hindered in-person collaboration and created a sense of insecurity about their educational development. 

According to foreign studies, anxiety and depressive states are among the most frequently reported psychological implications of the COVID-19 pandemic. A study conducted in 194 cities from China established the incidence of anxiety (28.8%), depression (16.5%), and stress (8.1%) among 1,210 young people (Silva, 2020). The development of these symptoms could be linked to the uncertainty about the pandemic, the long-term health impacts of the virus, its economic aftermath, and confinement due to quarantine. Many have wondered whether they or their families would contract a respiratory syndrome and how this would affect their health, work, or studies. Doubt, insecurity, and isolation are three factors that either individually or combined can favor the development of stress, anxiety, or depression. The correlation is even stronger when there is no emotional support system, such as family members, a friend cycle, or professional help. 

           When the human being faces a sudden distressing event, all our body, including its psychological machinery, is impacted and tries to overcome and react to this stimulus. Mental health can take a toll under stressful circumstances even if the symptoms are not identified right away. Under the circumstances and complexities of the coronavirus-19 pandemic, young adults are at risk of developing mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, chronic stress, PTSD. Such problems can interfere with the learning process of college students, resulting in poor academic achievements. Evaluating the mental health effects of this pandemic in young individuals might help to better understand the full array of health effects associated with the pandemic. 

References

Czeisler MÉ , Lane RI, Petrosky E, et al. (2020). Mental Health, Substance Use, and Suicidal Ideation During the COVID-19 Pandemic -United States, June 24–30, 2020. Retrieved from: Mental Health, Substance Use, and Suicidal Ideation During the COVID-19 Pandemic — United States, June 24–30, 2020 | MMWR (cdc.gov)

Silva Junior FJGda, Sales JCeS, Monteiro CFdS, et al. (2020). Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on mental health of young people and adults: a systematic review protocol of observational studies. BMJ Open 2020;10:e039426. doi:10.1136/ bmjopen-2020-039426

About the author

Claudia Manzano Herrera is a second-year medical student at UNIBE (Universidad Iberoamericana), located in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. She is member of ODEM (Organizacion Dominicana de Estudiantes de Medicina) which is representative of IFMSA in the Dominican Republic. She is interested in Internal Medicine as her future specialty inspired by her father and other members of her family. She hopes to become more involved in advocacy for patient’s health and human rights through writing and research.

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