Youth Mental Health and Its Future Impact After the Covid-19 Pandemic

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Muhammad Luthfi Adnan, a fifth-year medical student from Universitas Islam Indonesia. He 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.


After more than a year of the Covid-19 pandemic, there are still many challenges that must be faced today. The Covid-19 pandemic has had a tremendous impact on the lives of many people from various age groups, especially young people. The impact felt by the pandemic does not only have a physical effect but also affects the mentality of young people.

Several studies show the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the mentality of young people. The study by Liang et al showed that 40.4% of the sample had psychological problems with 14.4% of them having symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A study from Visser and Law-van Wyk to university students in South Africa also showed that 45.6% had symptoms of anxiety and 35% reported subjective symptoms of depression. Another study by Hawes et al in a youth population in Long Island, New York, USA also showed an increase in symptoms of anxiety and depression, especially by women. 

The high number of mental disorders felt by young people can be caused by various factors. In youth, social connectedness and social identity influence youth experiences to develop social decision skills. The loneliness caused by lockdowns during a pandemic can be linked to an increase in negative habits and poor mental health. Youth lives have also been disrupted due to the increased risk of unemployment during the pandemic. Unemployment status can harm mental unemployment and make them vulnerable socially and economically. Lack of economic activity such as unemployment and no training can affect the health of youth in the long run.

Furthermore, mental health disorders in youth can have a long-term impact. Mental disorders can increase the risk of alcohol and drug abuse, which is then correlated with increased crime rates in society. In addition, exposure to mental disorders can also reduce productivity in carrying out daily life functions, resulting in poor socio-economic conditions. In the long term, mental disorders also increase the risk of suicide in the future.

Therefore, attention regarding youth mental health issues needs to be addressed to reduce their impact in the future. The establishment of a health service centre to help youth deal with mental problems can help them overcome their mental complaints. In addition, some policies are needed that can help reduce the mental burden of youth regarding their future after the pandemic. Policies such as strengthening social security for youth to ensure education and employment can reduce mental health burdens and their future impacts.

Although the pandemic we are experiencing right now will not end anytime soon, the future we will face will definitely happen and we will have a role to play there. Therefore, we must work together to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic, as Bertrand Russell said, “the only thing that will redeem mankind is cooperation.”

Reference

  • Jones, E., Mitra, A. K., & Bhuiyan, A. R. (2021). Impact of COVID-19 on Mental Health in Adolescents: A Systematic Review. International journal of environmental research and public health, 18(5), 2470.
  • Liang, L., Ren, H., Cao, R., Hu, Y., Qin, Z., Li, C., & Mei, S. (2020). The Effect of COVID-19 on Youth Mental Health. The Psychiatric quarterly, 91(3), 841–852. 
  • Visser, M., & Law-van Wyk, E. (2021). University students’ mental health and emotional wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing lockdown. South African Journal of Psychology, 00812463211012219. 
  • Hawes, M. T., Szenczy, A. K., Klein, D. N., Hajcak, G., & Nelson, B. D. (2021). Increases in depression and anxiety symptoms in adolescents and young adults during the COVID-19 pandemic. Psychological medicine, 1–9. Advance online publication.
  • Power, E., Hughes, S., Cotter, D., & Cannon, M. (2020). Youth mental health in the time of COVID-19. Irish journal of psychological medicine, 37(4), 301–305. 
  • Swendsen, J., Conway, K. P., Degenhardt, L., Glantz, M., Jin, R., Merikangas, K. R., Sampson, N., & Kessler, R. C. (2010). Mental disorders as risk factors for substance use, abuse and dependence: results from the 10-year follow-up of the National Comorbidity Survey. Addiction (Abingdon, England), 105(6), 1117–1128. 
  • Orri, M., Scardera, S., Perret, L. C., Bolanis, D., Temcheff, C., Séguin, J. R., Boivin, M., Turecki, G., Tremblay, R. E., Côté, S. M., & Geoffroy, M. C. (2020). Mental Health Problems and Risk of Suicidal Ideation and Attempts in Adolescents. Pediatrics, 146(1), e20193823. 
  • Hawke, L. D., Monga, S., Korczak, D., Hayes, E., Relihan, J., Darnay, K., Cleverley, K., Lunsky, Y., Szatmari, P., & Henderson, J. (2020). Impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on youth mental health among youth with physical health challenges. Early intervention in psychiatry, 10.1111/eip.13052. Advance online publication. 
  • Achdut, N., & Refaeli, T. (2020). Unemployment and Psychological Distress among Young People during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Psychological Resources and Risk Factors. International journal of environmental research and public health, 17(19), 7163.

About the author

Muhammad Luthfi Adnan is a fifth-year medical student from Universitas Islam Indonesia who is currently undergoing a clinical clerkship at the Regional General Hospital of dr. Sudirman Mangun Sumarso in Wonogiri Regency, Central Java, Indonesia. During his free time between clerkship, he spends his time with reading, watching movies and writing about health and medicine and sometimes about the cultural impact of the movie. Some of his research has been published in medical student journals.

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