Insomnia, poor eating habits, disruptive behaviour, a lack of interest or focus in learning, refusal to attend school, emotional outbursts, confusion, distress, distance in relationships, poor academic performance, and low self-confidence are all subtle warning signs of poor mental health. They disrupt the lives and balance of students, no matter their age. One of the Indian Psychiatry Society’s surveys suggested a 20% rise in the number of mental illness cases among students since March 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic was an important trigger. However, the root causes were believed to be being physically distant from peers or loved ones, missing out on opportunities for group learning & recreation, and having a disturbed social life. They could cause stress, which affects the mental health in young adults.

According to a NAMI survey on “mental health in young adults,”

  • One out of every four college-going students may experience poor mental well-being.
  • 50% of these students experienced performance anxiety, which made it difficult to learn.
  • 80% of the subjects felt overwhelmed by the responsibilities of student life.
  • 40% of students struggling with mental health issues didn’t seek help, probably because they weren’t aware of it or were embarrassed to talk about it.

Now that we’re aware of the warning signs of poor mental health, read on to learn about the major consequences of poor mental well-being and find tips on how to overcome mental illness.

The Leading Causes of Mental Health Issues in People Aged 18 to 25

  1. 1. Childhood Abuse

Exposure to traumatic childhood experiences (like molestation, isolation, living with an abusive parent, etc.) affects the brain’s development when it’s at a vulnerable stage. Children may not realise it, but they internalise or externalise stress and anger, which eventually turn into anxiety, depression, and psychopathic tendencies. As they grow up, any event or conversation that reminds them of the past trauma causes the anger and sadness to surface. It may last for life if left undiagnosed.

  1. 2. Performance Pressure

Adults often have high expectations of students who perform well at school. While having expectations is normal, a problem arises when they become a consistent source of pressure on students, which triggers performance anxiety. Consistently studying and working under pressure can erode students’ mental well-being because they reach a point where they’re unable to cope with constant vigilance and conversations like how they’re going to have a miserable professional life if they don’t perform well at school.

  1. 3. Peer Pressure

It is one of the major causes of mental health issues, especially during the teenage years. Negative peer pressure stems from bullying, social isolation, fights with close friends, and the experience of being cheated on. It damages the self-confidence of individuals and makes them lose faith in relationships. The constant feeling of hopelessness and gloom, when left untreated, may eventually cause depression, leading to suicidal thoughts and self-harm.

  1. 4. Career-related Confusion

It is the second major cause of mental health issues in students. The pressure to carve out a successful career is frequently measured by remuneration and not job satisfaction. As a result, students abandon their passions or activities that they enjoy and choose a job that pays well, even if they don’t like it. This is why most well-established people leave a high-paying career later in life, probably because they realise that all these years, they’ve been living according to others’ expectations and not their own choices and interests. Since the teenage years are formative in establishing the career path, it’s essential that we consistently motivate and mentor youngsters to choose a job they love. If they pursue their interests, they’ll be able to perform well and earn well, despite initial struggles. The concept is wonderfully highlighted in Indian movies like 3 Idiots.

  1. 5. The Influence Of Social Media

A 2018 British study linked the use of social media to delayed and disrupted sleep, high social expectations, jealousy, and sadness resulting from seeing others perform better. All these factors result in poor self-esteem, consistent performance pressure, and eventually depression. We’ve often heard of incidents where young individuals are bullied by their peers over social platforms or have conflicts with their parents and families over vacations, material possessions, or allowances because they feel they don’t have enough. These problems frequently emerge during adolescence and worsen over time. As a result, experts recommend that individuals exercise control by limiting their social media usage and that parents mentor their children on how to cope with social expectations and behaviours.6.Other Factors Causing Depression or Anxiety

Introversion, the lack of emotional intelligence, persistent health issues, and learning disorders (like dyslexia, dysgraphia, etc.) are some other factors that can cause performance stress, anxiety, and depression. The best way to avoid them is to stay on the lookout for the warning symptoms and help youngsters cope with the challenges of growing up.

How To Overcome Mental Illness

  • Have Transparent Conversations

As caregivers and peers, we need to be more cautious, attentive, and empathetic when dealing with individuals experiencing mental issues. For discussing the solutions and causes of mental health issues, one-on-one, transparent, and nonjudgmental conversations are best. It’s important to have patience when dealing with teenagers. It gives us a chance to reconnect with youngsters and make them feel acknowledged and loved. Likewise, youngsters shouldn’t hesitate to talk about the challenges and conflicting emotions with the adults they feel more connected to. It’s always better to talk about your challenges and ask for help than to keep negative ideas inside you and do nothing about them. Teens shouldn’t shy away from seeking support and help from a community they feel they belong to.

  • Finding Happy Alternatives

Some students need more time to overcome mental illness than others. They also need more opportunities to break away from the situations that cause stress. Psychologists encourage teachers and educational institutions to include more breaks in between classes, extracurricular activities alongside the main curriculum, and opportunities to connect with peers. E.g., trips, social gatherings, cultural programmes, social causes, etc. These little breaks make students feel connected and more confident about their abilities.

Similarly, students should focus on their interests and explore activities that make them feel happy and content. For instance, if you’re fond of making Rangolis or Mandala art, you could propose a Rangoli-making contest and help your institution organise it. It’s a great opportunity to relieve academic stress and collaborate with your peers.

  • Accepting Suggestions

Adolescents are capable of communicating what they like and want in their surroundings. Colleges could welcome suggestions from students on the types of extracurricular activities or courses they wish to include in their programme. They could also use their help in designing and managing their classrooms or planning outings and cultural events. It’s also essential to remember, acknowledge, and appreciate their efforts and contributions. This fosters feelings of safety, belongingness, and security. 

For students, it’s essential to show trust in their teachers. They should try to be more receptive to their mentors’ suggestions and find ways to imbibe them in their daily life to make a positive change.

  • Modelling Positive Behaviours

Adults, particularly teachers and mentors, serve as positive role models for students. They can help youngsters learn how to calmly cope with stressful situations. They can also show them how to honestly accept their feelings, care for others, show empathy, and demonstrate an optimistic approach to life.

Similarly, students, who’re inspired by their mentors, can be a role model for their juniors. If you’ve successfully battled your demons, you can help others defeat theirs. It’ll not just make others’ lives better but also give you a sense of satisfaction.

Mental health in young adults is one of the least talked about issues in our society. Although we do focus on sports and motor skill activities to ensure physical well-being, we often neglect mental health issues, thinking they arise only in the face of trauma or psychological disorder. However, maintaining good mental health is important for stabilising healthy emotions, constructive actions, and positive behaviour. We all should be aware of it and talk more about how to overcome mental illness to find effective solutions.

The CMR University, one of the top private universities in Bangalore, has  life skill training, extracurricular clubs, social initiatives, support centre and workshops that generate awareness among students on career, personality development, major social and health issues. Their personalised interventions and activities also give students a chance to connect with each other, polish their skills, and give back to the community. Click here to discover how they take learning beyond the classrooms.


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