Mental health is a hot topic in media today with hashtags like #SelfCareSunday trending on social media and more celebrities and athletes than ever are coming forward and talking about their own mental health struggles. For example, professional tennis player Naomi Osaka recently withdrew from the French Open after being fined for not participating in an after-match press conference, which she found had a negative impact on her mental health. But even with mental health issues being discussed more openly, it can still be challenging to talk about mental health in an affirming and healthy way. 

When a loved one suffers from mental health issues, it can be difficult for you to address. The last thing you want to do is make them feel crazy or invalidated in their feelings and emotions. It can be hard to understand what they are going through if you yourself have never been in their type of situation. However, there are ways you can intervene and get help for young adults.

Young Adults and Mental Health

Research shows that the percentage of young Americans experiencing some sort of mental health disorder has significantly increased over the past decade. The causes of this increase could stem from many different origins. Some examples of situations that may affect the mental health of young adults include:

  • Spending too much time on devices so individual becomes sleep-deprived
  • Digital communication versus face-to-face communication influences mood disorders and suicide-related outcomes for young people
  • Digital media can cause people to compare themselves and their lives to the lives or image of others
  • Pressure at school or work can trigger feelings of anxiety or depression in many young adults. They may want to do well and succeed, but worry that a mistake or setback will mean that they have failed. This fear of failure may cause young adults to return back home or become unable to move outside of their comfort zone. 
  • Social dynamics are different for young adults than they are for younger children. Young adults are given more freedom to create their own relationships and social calendar, but for many, making new friends as an adult can be challenging. 
  • Lacking in life skills can also contribute to stress in young adults. If they are living independently for the first time, but have not learned skills like time management, goal setting, budgeting, or effective communication, they may feel overwhelmed by all their new responsibilities. 

Before you get help for young adults struggling with mental health issues, you must first identify that there is an issue at hand. Educate yourself on the signs and symptoms to look for as a signal to get help for young adults.

The Red Flags of Mental Health Issues In Young Adults

There are signs of mental health disorders that are seen more commonly in young adults. You should look for warning signs and take the next steps to get your young adult the help they need. The signs include the following:

  • Confused thinking
  • Prolonged depression (sadness or irritability)
  • Feelings of extreme highs and lows
  • Excessive fears, worries and anxieties
  • Social withdrawal
  • Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Strong feelings of anger
  • Strange thoughts (delusions)
  • Seeing or hearing things that aren’t there (hallucinations)
  • Growing inability to cope with daily problems and activities
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Numerous unexplained physical ailments
  • Substance use

Taking Action

After observing concerns or if your young adult has made you aware of their struggles, you should come up with a course of action to get them proper care. Seeking help is not the easiest task. Recognize that your young adult may feel embarrassed or fearful of getting outside help, but you can do many things to make the journey as smooth as possible.

Here are some actions you should take to get started helping your young adult:

  • Create a safe environment for them to communicate their feelings without fear of judgment. It is not your job to diagnose them, but rather to give them the space they need to acknowledge where they may be struggling. 
  • Encourage them to take a mental health screen. For many young adults, this may be the most intimidating part of addressing their mental health. You can offer to be with them when they make their appointment or go with them when they go to meet their doctor. 
  • Research resources available to help your young adult. There are many online resources and communities for people dealing with different mental health issues, and their families as well. It is important to make sure you are getting your information from credible sources and if you are unsure, your local health care provider is a safe place to start.
  • Learn about different mental health conditions and treatment options so you can be the best caretaker possible. You may end up needing to talk to more than one health care provider or speak with a specialist. 
  • Create strategies to work to improve every day whether it be incorporating exercise, more sleep, support groups, etc. It can start with small steps like setting a sleep schedule and move onto more in-depth strategies like attending therapy outpatient sessions. 
  • Find professional help that will be the right fit for your young adult. Therapy is not a one size fits all fix for mental health. Where one person may respond well to traditional talk therapy, another may benefit more from group therapy or equine therapy. Once you have done your research, it is important to also consider the unique needs of your young adult. 

Wilderness Therapy for Young Adults

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, bouldering, and canoeing, 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.

While we work with young adults with a variety of mental health issues, wilderness therapy can be a tool for young adults healing from trauma. Our therapists use EMDR and Brainspotting to help clients overcome their traumatic experiences. These techniques allow clients to reprocess past traumas or memories without retraumatizing. In the wilderness setting of BlueFire Pulsar, there is ample time to work on these struggles. Therapists can provide multiple sessions for as long as the client needs. Clients typically participate in these sessions for an hour to an hour and a half during the day. Later, in the evening group therapy sessions, students have the opportunity to reflect and process. Clients also meet with their community of support in the morning to continue the process of reflection and understanding.

At BlueFire PulsaR, our young adults also participate in adventure therapy programming. 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.

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.

BlueFire PulsaR can help

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. 

At BlueFire Pulsar, we understand that for young adults struggling to launch into adulthood, there are a myriad of factors that have created this situation. Many young adults who have fallen behind their peers in terms of life skills are suffering from mental health issues like depression and anxiety that make it difficult to find motivation. These mental health challenges also tend to cause feelings of self-doubt and low self-esteem. Once these issues are being managed in a healthy, productive way, clients can work toward other short and long-term goals and successfully launch into adulthood. 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.

For more information, please call us at 208-269-7407.

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