lonely youth
young woman sitting alone

Youth (teens and adults under the age of 30) is a wonderful time in life.  This age group is facing unique challenges brought on by Covid-19 and other social factors.  A recent article in USA Today reported that young adults and teens (and especially young adults who are non-white) have experienced a disproportionally high amount of anxiety compared with some other age groups.  You can read the article on USA Today’s website by following this link:

https://social.triadpcc.com/1iOh

According to the above article, the suicide rate has increased significantly from 1999-2018.  If you or a loved one are having suicidal thoughts, please seek help. The national suicide crisis line is a good resource:  1-800-273-8255 (the last 4 digits spell “talk” on a phone keypad, which makes the number easier to memorize).

A Need for Increased Independence AND Increased Social Support

Although there has been an increase in anxiety, social isolation, the stigma associated with mental health treatment, and economic challenges are leaving youth extremely vulnerable to mental health problems.  A developmental task for youth is developing their own identify and not depend as much on their family of origin as much for the support they need.  The current economy has made it extremely difficult to establish independence.  Social distancing is a requirement (by law in many areas) and many young people are not receiving needed social support.

Technology Alone is Insufficient

Technology can help overcome the social distancing requirements for some people. Individuals who have the financial means to have tools such as high-speed internet, computers, and mobile devices can use social media and video conferencing software to connect with their peers.  Some people do not have these tools and there are a significant number of individuals who do not find social media or teleconferencing as an adequate substitute for in-person socialization.

The Benefits of Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy will likely be increasingly important to this age group for a variety of reasons.  The privacy of psychotherapy will help young people to continue to receive social support without dependence on their family-of-origin.  Even the wisest of friends and family often have an agenda and are tempted to give advice.  Many young people do not need advice as much as they need a healthy venue to struggle with their feelings and arrive at solutions themselves.  Psychotherapy is an ideal venue for this process.  Finally, there are significant self-care skills that a competent mental health professional can teach young people that they are not likely to learn from non-professionals, such as mindfulness, setting boundaries, and eliminating negative thinking patterns.  The majority of youth will experience positive growth during psychotherapy.  Mental health professionals are also equipped to identify mental health problems that youth may be experiencing that go beyond normal stress.  To summarize, the following are some unique benefits psychotherapy may provide to youth:

  • Privacy
  • Fostering Independence
  • Self-Care skills
  • When needed, diagnosing and treating mental health problems

Finding a Psychotherapist

Finding a therapist can be difficult.  Therapists are not allowed to advertise in the same manner as some other professions.  Due to the stigma associated with going to therapy, people are not as likely to discuss their experiences with local therapists.  Finances are one consideration.  If you have health insurance, your plan may have a mental health benefit.  If you call your insurance plan, they may be able to direct you to a therapist in your area who is covered by your plan.

Although finances are an important consideration, your comfort with your therapist and their effectiveness are also very important considerations.  Unlike some other types of healthcare, seeing a therapist requires your active participation and interaction with your therapist.  If you are not comfortable talking with your therapist, it will make the process much more difficult.  Do you have any preferences in terms of age, gender, or personality type (outgoing and talkative, reserved and quieter, someplace in the middle)?  A good resource to help you find a counselor is:

psychology today

This online database will allow you to search for a therapist by location, insurance, and specialties.  You will receive a list of therapists with a bio, picture, and contact information. This database is free for you to use and will give you a starting point for finding a therapist who is a good match for you.  It would be wise to have a list of 3 or more names so you can call them and see if they are taking new patients and also get a feel for their responsiveness to you.

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