Depression can quickly take over one’s life. Even before COVID-19, the prevalence of mental illness among adults was increasing. In 2017-2018, 19% of adults experienced a mental illness, an increase of 1.5 million people over last year’s dataset. And youth mental health is worsening. 9.7% of youth in the U.S. have severe major depression, compared to 9.2% in last year’s dataset. This rate was highest among youth who identify as more than one race, at 12.4%.
Depression can affect relationships and overall ability to function. If left untreated, depression may get worse and lead to bigger problems. However, it is important that young adults know they are not alone in their struggles. There are many resources and ways one can work every day to combat the symptoms of depression. It’s not always easy for one to ask for help—you should approach the conversation with sensitivity and mindfulness. Some signs that may appear through depression include:
- Lack of motivation
- Trouble concentrating
- Feelings of guilt
- Having negative or suicidal thoughts
- Lack of energy/fatigue
- Feeling irritable, angry, or cynical
Resources for Dealing with Depression
As mentioned earlier, seeking help can be difficult for young adults. They may be embarrassed or feel alone. Unfortunately, many people still feel that there is a stigma attached to mental health issues such as depression. Stigma can lead to discrimination that can be obvious or indirect. Young adults may worry that others will judge their struggles or treatment. They may feel that people who have reached out to in the past changed their attitude towards them when they found out about their depression. People who have a stigma around mental health issues may even assume that young adults who are struggling with their mental health may be unstable, dangerous or even violent. These stigmas can be ingrained in our culture which can cause even the person suffering to judge themself negatively for their depression.
It is very important that young adults feel supported and cared for throughout their recovery. Resources that should be open to young adults include the following:
- Friends and family: Friends and family can offer great support to young adults suffering from depressive symptoms. They can provide advice, guidance, and help one seek out professional resources. Young adults with depression should have people whom they trust to talk to and lean on for support.
- Doctors: Medical professionals play a huge role in one’s recovery from depression. If an individual’s doctor is unable to treat one on their own, they will be able to help recommend other resources such as mental health specialists. It is important to see a doctor to rule out any other issues, especially if there are physical symptoms associated.
- School: Help for a depressed young adult can be found at the university setting also. If your child is in college, you should encourage them to use the resources available to them on campus. Many campuses offer counseling services, support groups, and other services.
- Support Groups
- Inpatient or Outpatient Treatment
Today’s young adults have the entire world at their fingertips through their phones. Having a wealth of information can be helpful, but too much information can just become overwhelming. How do you know that you’re receiving accurate and current information? It is important to find clinical and research-backed sources of support when looking for resources online. Here are a few to keep in mind:
- National Institute of Mental Health 1-866-615-6464. The NIMH is the largest research organization in the world committed to understanding the treatment and prevention of mental disorders. It funds research “to transform the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses through basic and clinical research, paving the way for prevention, recovery, and cure.”
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Division of Mental Health 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636). The mental health arm of the CDC is a good source of public health information on mental health.
- American Psychological Association 1-800-374-2721. The APA is a professional organization of psychologists. Its site explains how psychologists work with you to alleviate symptoms and offers information on how to manage health and well-being while coping with depression and anxiety.
- American Psychiatric Association 1-703-907-7300. The APA is a medical society whose members work to ensure that persons with mental illness, including substance use disorders, receive humane care and effective treatment. Educational material is available on their site, as well as help finding a psychiatrist.
- National Alliance on Mental Illness 1-800-950-NAMI (1-800-950-6264). NAMI is the largest grassroots organization devoted to improving the lives of those affected by mental illness. Through various programs, it aims to change public perception about mental illness, help its members manage mental illness and build up family relationships.
- Anxiety and Depression Association of America This site offers blogs by experts and patients, educational webinars and help finding a support group near you, or information on how to start one if none are available.
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). This organization offers support and educational material for those who have or are contemplating suicide, or love someone who has.
Wilderness Therapy for Depression
At blueFire PulsaR, clients have the chance to gain a better sense of themselves as individuals and begin forming goals with the guidance of therapeutic professionals. Through exciting adventure-based activities like mountaineering and bouldering, clients step outside of their comfort zone and build translatable skills such as leadership, teamwork, and accountability. As clients take part in wilderness programming, we are able to assess their needs and begin to form a plan for transitioning away from past negative behaviors. Our transition planning helps identify key points as your child heads home and uses the wilderness to gain the confidence needed to no longer make the same mistakes.
Adventure therapy is an evidence-based therapeutic approach that utilizes the powerful healing properties of the outdoors to promote change and growth within individuals. Young adults can especially benefit from this programming because it completely removes them from the distractions of their life at home and allows them to focus on their own personal growth and healing. Adventure therapy is the centerpiece of the program which explores personal growth through a variety of new experiences: rock climbing, backpacking, mountain biking, white water rafting, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, horsemanship, caving, and historical outings.
A key feature of adventure therapy is its focus on simultaneously building self-sufficiency and communication with others. Although it may seem as if the concepts are contradictory, in reality, they go hand-in-hand; there are moments when the individual takes priority, and there are moments when everybody has to work as a team. Building trust, relying on others, and, on the other hand, being supportive and responsible can all be lessons of the wild.
All of these life and social skills can help young adults dealing with depression feel connected and understood, perhaps for the first time in their life. Instead of isolating or engaging in harmful behavior, negative thoughts, young adults know how to express their struggles and know that their feelings will be acknowledged without judgement or stigma. Many young adults thrive when they have access to clinical treatment while also working with the support of their peers and the staff. Wilderness and adventure therapy provides young adults with new coping skills for the symptoms of their depression that they can continue to use once they return home.
BlueFire PulsaR can help
If you or your young adult are struggling to gain the independence and confidence they need to launch themselves into adulthood, wilderness therapy can be a positive and transformative experience. Throughout their time in nature, young adults have the chance to build important life skills and work towards achieving goals they’d never imagined they could accomplish. Away from the temptations of technology and negative influences back home, clients have the opportunity to look inwards and focus on building the skills that will lead to success back home.
From day one, our top goal is to transition young adults to an independent living environment. Everything we do is with that in mind. Our team begins with a solid assessment and understanding of the struggles a young adult has at home. After that, we work closely with our therapeutic teams to ensure we are developing programming around the needs of our young adults. Once therapeutic change is evident we then start to look forward to the next steps of independence such as college, transitional living programs or independent living.
BlueFire PulsaR is a coeducational wilderness therapy program for young adults ages 18-28. This program addresses emotional, social, and behavioral problems in struggling young adults. Adventure therapy, wilderness ventures, equine therapy, academic opportunities and “family spark” are used to help students open up and look at their life. From there they are able to experience growth and adopt healthy self-management skills. This program is dedicated to helping students regain a better sense of the world around them while addressing their emotions and needs head-on. We can help your family today.
Contact us at 208-269-7407.