Mental Illness in Young Adults

As we all know, the life of a young adult can feel like an extreme roller coaster ride, full of "emotional ups and downs" and chaotic life-turns.

Similar to the transitional phase of adolescence, young adulthood can be a daunting period for any young man or woman to go through. During this inherently hectic period of extreme transition, young adults experience mental, physical, and emotional changes that lead many to develop mental health disorders - mental illnesses that can negatively affect a young man or woman well into adulthood. Furthermore, young adults who do not receive crucial therapeutic treatment for a recently developed mental illness may be at risk of being negatively affected by their mental disorder for the remainder of their lives.

Mental Health Disorder vs. "Young Adult Behavior"

We all know that many - if not most - young adults have a proclivity for displaying adolescent behaviors and tend to suffer from varying symptoms of emotional immaturity in some form or another. However, just because a young adult displays adolescent-like emotions such as moody, cranky, or angry emotional outbursts, this does not necessarily mean that a young adult actually suffers from a mental health disorder.

After all, young men and women are not that far removed from their angst-ridden teenage years which were also filled with uncertainty, inherent stresses, and life's confusing dilemmas in their own right.

That being said, a young adult's erratic and adolescent-like inability to control their emotions often makes it difficult for loved ones, friends, co-workers, and even mental health professionals to identify the difference between normal young adult behaviors and them having a bonafide mental illness. Nevertheless, while it may be difficult to separate normal behaviors from a mental health disorder in young adults, there are indicators that a young person's bad mood may be more serious than left-over adolescent behaviors. These indicators include:

  • The bad mood or grumpiness persists, lasting longer than a few days
  • Withdrawn socially
  • Continual anger, irritability or depression
  • Dramatic changes in appetite or sudden weight loss or gain

Mental Health Disorders in Young Adults

According to Childtrends.org, as many as 25% of adolescents are diagnosed with having a mental health disorder. It is during this time in a young person's life when depression, anxiety and autism spectrum disorder can be first recognized and, furthermore, addressed, by mental health professionals.

Why does this matter? Well, according to the experts at Childtrends.org age has much to do with not only mental health disorders but addictive issues as well. The experts state that as many as 50% of young people's development of substance addictions and mental health disorders have roots whose humble beginnings can be traced back to before the age of 14. At the age of 24, that number jumps up to 75%.

And age isn't the only critical factor in a young adult's likely development of a mental health disorder. According to the experts, a person's gender, genetics and family situations can also play a significant role. Childtrends.org, for instance, states that males tend to have a proclivity for having behavioral and autism spectrum disorders as well as issues relating to attention deficit and ADHD issues. Females, on the other hand, are more likely to develop mild to severe depression and eating disorders.

Other factors that are proven to develop mental health issues in young adults include:

  • Being raised in a family of sexual or physical abuse
  • Being raised by parents who have lower levels of education
  • having parents who also suffer from a mental health disorder of their own.

4 Most Common Mental Health Disorders Found in Today's Young Adults:

  1. Depression
  2. Anxiety
  3. Eating disorders
  4. Addiction


According to the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors (AUCCCD), in 2013 36.4% of young adults in college reported having experienced some form of depression. According to their study, AUCCCD stated that depression is the leading cause of young adults dropping out of school. The experts' study also concluded that, if left untreated, depressed young adult students are at high risk of committing suicide.

As we all know, depression is a rather common, albeit serious condition that leaves those afflicted in a state of hopelessness and detached from the rest of the world. This inherently isolating mental illness can negatively impact every facet of a person's life making every day and critical tasks such as sleeping, eating, and even getting out of bed, unreasonably difficult endeavors to complete.

Depression is a classified mental illness that is caused by numerous factors including, biological, psychological and environmental. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), depression is the most common mental disorder among American young adults.

"...Soulegria utilizes strengths based relational approach. Years of research have shown that the greatest indicator of treatment gains is dependent on the strength of the therapeutic relationship. Through developing trust and respect we use collegial relationships to influence and coach clients toward greater mental, emotional and physical health. We establish a culture of attraction, not coercion. The more the client feels they are in a supported treatment community, the greater the likelihood of that client developing real internal change..."


Anxiety, particularly at lowered levels, is oftentimes just a part of everyone's day-to-day life. In fact, having some form of anxiety is critical for one's life and without it, completing important life tasks such as, balancing a checkbook, saving money, or meeting academic/occupational deadlines would be nearly impossible. However, it is when anxiety affects a person's every day-to-day life that this biologically inherent stressor becomes a serious issue and evolves into a mental disorder.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) reports that anxiety is the most common mental illness in the US. According to the organization, as many as 40 million adults of the age of 18 are adversely affected by anxiety. What's worse, the ADAA also reported that only about one-third of these overly anxious adults seek treatment for the debilitating mental disorder. Furthermore, the ADAA also states that roughly 75% of Americans who suffer from an anxiety disorder will experience their first anxiety episode in early adulthood - specifically, before the age of 22.

Most Common Anxiety Disorders Found in Young Adults:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  • Panic Disorder
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Social Anxiety Disorder

Eating Disorders

Millions of young adults - young men and women in college in particular - develop an eating disorder during adulthood. Unfortunately, the majority of these millions of suffering young adults fail to seek out treatment for their potentially life-threatening condition.

Eating disorders are classified as extreme emotions, behaviors, and attitudes that pertain to food intake that can include and even perpetuate a distorted self-image. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (NAANAD), eating disorders are a critical and potentially life-threatening issue - especially if left untreated.

Lesser Known Facts about Eating Disorders (According to NAANAD):

  • Eating disorders are extremely common among all ages and genders - at least 30,000,000 people in the United States suffer from some type of eating disorder
  • Of all mental disorders, individuals suffering from eating disorders have the highest mortality rate
  • One person dies as a direct result of an eating disorder every 62 minutes


An addiction is defined as a dependency and habitual abuse of a harmful substance, illicit or otherwise.

Unfortunately, excessive alcohol and illicit drug usage remain to be an issue that runs rampant in today's young adult culture. And, this addictive, young adult-issue is perhaps the most evident when considering it is commonplace on nearly every college campus throughout the nation. Not only do millions of young adult students condemn the extreme behaviors of substance abuse, but many of these millions of young students participate as well. For some young adult students, what starts as a 'social tradition' soon becomes an out of control addiction that requires clinical therapeutic treatment to effectively reverse.

...Soulegria Treats Addictive Issues

Soulegria is one of a few premier treatment programs that specialize in the area of addiction-treatment and rehab for youthful men and women. Our professional team of therapists, counselors, and specially trained life coaches present the perfect supporting cast for complete restoration of youth who are fighting substance abuse and addiction.

The students we serve have experienced significant life changes, and have succumbed to the negative influence of peer pressure. They have been abusing substances as a way of navigating through the difficulties associated with early adulthood. Therefore, we understand the importance of flexibility in meeting their therapeutic needs. We are the alternative, or perfect addition, to the traditional residential treatments...

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) reports that:

  • About 25% of young adult students report to having problems with their drinking habits
  • 6 out of 10 young adults in college have consumed alcohol or drugs within the past month and roughly two-thirds of those students engage in binge drinking.
  • Almost 20% of college students can be classified as having alcoholic tendencies

Why Treatment for Mentally Ill Young Adults Is Necessary

For young adults suffering from a mental illness, clinical treatment is a necessity. By engaging in therapeutic treatment for their disorder, mentally ill young adults are able to better manage out of control emotions, negative habitual behaviors (such as drug and alcohol abuse/addiction), and other adverse emotional or behavioral consequences that stem from their debilitating mental health disorder. Moreover, young adults suffering from a mental health disorder will finally be able to live a happy and fulfilled life by participating in some form of therapeutic treatment.

Most importantly though, mentally suffering, untreated young people are far more likely to commit self-harm or even suicide if they fail to receive adequate treatment for their potentially fatal disorder. Despite these inherent dangers, however, less than half of young adults with mental health disorders actually seek the necessary professional help they so desperately require.

The unfortunate stigma that unfairly casts its shadows on mental illness is perhaps the main culprit for young adults failing to receive treatment for their condition. Due to this unfortunate cultural perception, countless young people suffer in silence, many of whom end up addicted to harmful substances that they use as a form of "self-medication." Even worse, a significant portion of these untreated young men and women ultimately take their own lives.

As of today, suicide is the third-leading cause of death among people between the ages of 10 and 24. Of this significant portion of young men and women, 90 percent have a mental health disorder while 60 percent suffer from depression at the time of their suicide.

The consequences of failure to receive treatment aren't always fatal though. Rather, millions of untreated mentally ill young people suffer poor performances in school or at work, fail to establish meaningful relationships, become addicted to harmful substances, engage in risky sexual behaviors, and isolate from social situations. While these adverse behaviors may not lead to suicide in every case, they are still severe enough to drastically affect the afflicted individuals who suffer from their emotionally damaging symptoms.

With all of this in mind, it is not alarmist to say that mentally disordered, suffering young people absolutely require mental health treatment for their life-threatening condition. If you are a young adult suffering from a mental illness, or perhaps a loved one of said suffering individual, DO NOT hesitate to seek necessary mental health treatment for you or your loved one!

Soulegria Provides Expert Mental Health Treatment

Remember, educating yourself is the most important, initial step one can possibly take. Understand that countless young adults find success through therapeutic intervention programs by learning about what contributes to their destructive behaviors. If you have reached the point of considering a program that is designed to help turn troubled young people around, call Soulegria at 800-348-8508. You can find the right option for your adult child by consulting with our professional Admissions Counselor.