Nearly half of young adults struggled with mental health issues during pandemic

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New research has revealed that about 50 percent of young adults exhibited mental health symptoms during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and more than a third of those young adults were unable to access mental health therapy.

The study, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, and conducted by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, shows a growing trend of mental health issues and a greater demand for patient care.

Researchers drew data from the United States Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey (HPS) and sought to determine the prevalence of anxiety and/or depression symptoms in 2,809 adults between the ages of 18 to 25 years old. The data was collected in June through early July 2021 and also included utilization rates of mental health services and unmet need for mental health therapy.

The study found that 48 percent of young adults reported mental health symptoms. Thirty-nine percent of participants used prescription medications and/or received counseling, while 36 percent reported an unmet counseling need. Authors noted that female, Hispanic, and uninsured adults had the greatest unmet need when it came to accessing mental health services.

According to the study’s authors, their findings highlight the importance of improving young adult mental health care by addressing barriers such as costs, stigma, confidentiality concerns, and lack of awareness regarding need of care. In addition, healthcare access and utilization patterns must be addressed, as well as the need to increase the size, distribution, and capacity of the mental healthcare workforce and primary care providers to deliver culturally appropriate care.