Editor’s Note: In this Future Perspective, students discuss mental health. Next week, we will ask, “Recent shootings have increased calls for gun control once again. Should we tighten gun control to the extent that the Second Amendment allows? Should we amend the constitution to repeal the original Second Amendment? ” Students should click here to submit comments of less than 250 words by May 24. The best answers will be published that night.
A 2018 Pew Research Center survey found that 95% of teenagers in the US have access to a smartphone, and 45% of these are regularly online. This is particularly worrisome, according to a Mayo Clinic analysis of a number of studies showing that prolonged and continued social media use puts teenagers at higher risk of developing mental health problems. .
While this is certainly grim, fortunately this is often not enough to push a young person to commit suicide. However, living conditions under the pandemic have allowed stress and anxiety from social media to become uncomfortable and increased. Especially in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, many young people lost time in school filling the void on social media.
Social media interactions cannot replace real-life communication. Young people often have a hard time figuring out who they are regardless of social media. When they miss the social life of school, they can start to feel empty. Ultimately, if this void is not filled with a return to face-to-face interactions, young people will become more and more dependent on social media — which will keep us going for a long time. limited time before addiction takes over and causes harm.
—Jesse Hagy, Bates College, environmental studies
Deep relationships are key
The biggest source of mental health problems I’ve observed is isolation and lack of meaningful relationships.
When something difficult happens in life, people are quick to compare themselves to others. We often feel that the people around us are doing better and that everything is in order, which rarely happens and this tendency is exacerbated by social media. It is easy to see things this way when one is isolated from reality.
Social and physical isolation both contribute to the sense of loneliness our generation possesses. It’s unfortunate to see people feeling alone turn to social media as an outlet, when it only provides a temporary cover. Having a group of companions, especially in person, is the best cure, which can be found among co-workers, classmates, teammates, and religious groups.
In my opinion, the root cause of that loneliness is the decline in religious attachment. From a psychological perspective, religion provides a purpose to one’s life, leading to more fulfillment. Without that, it’s easy to become nihilistic and think life is useless. Forming deep relationships and filling religious gaps are potential remedies to my generation’s mental health struggles.
—Zachary Mason, Carnegie Mellon University, electrical and computer engineering
Passion for entertainment
Boredom and dissatisfaction with life now seem to be as common as the flu. America has technology, wealth, medicine and science, but it seems that people are becoming increasingly dissatisfied. In relationships, physical health, pandemic-related changes, work-related activities, personal finances, and housing, we all face stresses through our lives. often, but when they pile up and go unresolved, they lead to mental health problems. When the happiness experienced from the affairs of life outweighs the sadness, it can be painful to continue with the basic functions of life.
One thing that I attribute to a sense of purposelessness is an over-reliance on technology, including an oversaturation of entertainment and a lack of personal initiative to acquire skills and develop passions. The anxious perception that notifications could reach our phones at any moment makes it more difficult to be here and now, which increases anxiety and dissatisfaction. If we are to tackle the growing problem of mental health, we each need to learn to be independent of technology and to be in control of when we use it. We need to recognize the importance of passion and the dangers of overuse of entertainment.
—Joshua Gammariello, University of Tennessee, business administration
Give your child a voice
The interconnectedness of the world has inevitably led to an epidemic of mental health crises that we could scarcely have imagined in the past. At the core of most of these mental health problems lies the disdain of young people by older generations. They have created a society in which young people have no voice and must learn to navigate the way of the older generation rather than their own.
This loss of identity and autonomy has resulted in an environment that fosters a permanent lack of purpose and anxiety, alongside feelings of resentment and a strong desire for change. The only way to break this self-destructive cycle is to learn from the past and give the youth an actualized, unjustifiable voice to work side-by-side with the ex for a better future.
—Tobias Murphy, State University of New Mexico, government
Religion leads to better mental health
One factor in particular has shown a strong correlation with the decline in the morale of America’s youth: secularization. Religious practice in the United States has been declining for some time, paralleling a growing mental health crisis.
We cannot simply say that one causes the other because they occur simultaneously. However, we can test for a possible connection between these two factors, which may support a cause-and-effect relationship.
Purpose is the core of human existence and therefore human happiness. And where is the purpose found? For thousands of years, people of all different tribes and languages have found purpose in religion. Religion offers existential hope for a future beyond the boundaries of death. Even when life is tough, there’s a promise that it won’t go to waste. Secularization extinguishes this hope, turning it to ashes.
—Andrew Kent, University of Georgia, chemistry
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https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-student-mental-health-crisis-depression-college-students-anxiety-social-media-11652820285 The Student Mental Health Crisis