Guide for Mental Health Issues and Treatment in Young Adults

  • Posted at Jun 30, 2023
  • Written by Rebecca
Guide for Mental Health Issues and Treatment in Young Adults

Mental health issues aren’t something only adults face – young people also struggle with mental health conditions and their symptoms. For young adults, it can be imperative to identify mental health issues and address them using professional help before moving on to adulthood in order to manage symptoms and live healthy adult lives. Knowing more about the mental health issues young adults face, the causes of mental health issues in young adults, options for care, and what loved ones can do to help can provide young adults and their families with the information they need to get started on a journey of healing.

Guide for Mental Health Issues and Treatment in Young Adults

Understanding more about mental health issues in young adults involves education on how mental health issues affect young adults statistically. assessing the statistical information we have about these issues can help to inform the population about the risks and commonplace of mental health issues affecting young adults in our country. According to statistics from the National Institute of Mental Health:

  • people ages 18-25 experience mental health issues on a larger scale than adults
  • 32% of people ages 18-25 are diagnosed with a mental health disorder
  • young adults aged 18-25 have a higher prevalence of serious mental health issues compared to older populations

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, some further statistics taken from research conducted in 2018 regarding young adult mental health issues include:

  • 8.8 million young adults reported having a mental health issue
  • only 42% of young adults reporting having mental health issues got help through treatment
  • 5.1 million young adults reported having a substance use disorder
  • 87% of young adults living with a substance use disorder didn’t get help through treatment

Guide for Mental Health Issues and Treatment in Young Adults

Identifying and understanding the causes of mental health issues developing in young adults can help to spread awareness and prevent mental health issues in young adults. Furthermore, identifying risk factors for mental health issues in young adults can assist with a better understanding of whether or not a young adult may need to seek out help for an undiagnosed mental health condition.

Some of the causes of mental health issues in young adults may include:

  • genetics and family history of mental illness
  • severe psychological trauma during childhood
  • chemical imbalances within the brain
  • exposure to drugs or alcohol when in the womb
  • environmental factors like loneliness or abuse as a child

Some of the risk factors that play into the development of mental health conditions in young adults may include:

  • brain trauma
  • being diagnosed with a life-changing illness
  • using or abusing addictive substances
  • being diagnosed with a mental health condition previously
  • self-destructive thought patterns
  • not having regular routines like sleeping or eating too much or too little
  • not having healthy relationships

Guide for Mental Health Issues and Treatment in Young Adults

There are certain mental health issues that are more commonly diagnosed in people who are younger. Spreading awareness about the most common mental health conditions diagnosed in young adults can help young adults better identify if these conditions are something that is impacting their lives. The most commonly diagnosed mental health conditions in young adults include:

  • Depressive disorders (Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), Bipolar Disorders, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), etc.)
  • Anxiety disorders (Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), phobias, social anxiety disorder, etc.)
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Substance Use Disorders
  • Eating disorders (Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder (BED), etc.)

Out of all the commonly diagnosed mental health issues in young adults, depression is the most common. Depressive disorders come with a variety of debilitating symptoms and come in many forms. However, the most defining characteristic of depressive disorders is that an individual experiences depression, or intense feelings of sadness and despair, more often than not.

Some other common signs and symptoms of depressive disorders can include:

  • weight loss
  • neglecting personal hygiene
  • risk-taking behaviors
  • not being able to get out of bed
  • isolation from others and avoidance behaviors
  • apathy for things previously enjoyed
  • suicidal ideation and self-harm
  • lack of energy
  • difficulty making decisions
  • using or abusing addictive substances

Guide for Mental Health Issues and Treatment in Young Adults

Getting treatment for mental health issues is something that is successful and can help young adults diagnosed with mental health conditions better manage symptoms. When symptoms are managed, young adults diagnosed with mental health issues can benefit from an improved overall sense of mental well-being. And, have better success with personal relationships, finances, education, and careers. Unfortunately, not every young person who is living with a mental illness gets the available or adequate treatment they need to manage symptoms of mental health issues. This is where understanding treatment statistics comes into play.

According to the CDC, some information about mental health treatment for young adults includes:

  • in the year 2020, over 20% of people over the age of 18 received some kind of treatment for mental health issues
  • women more commonly seek out mental health treatment than men
  • adults more commonly get mental health help through treatments like prescription medications, but the percentage of people using treatments like counseling services decreased in the year 2020 – only 10% of adults received these types of services
  • ethnicity has an effect on whether or not people get help. White adults are more likely to get help than Hispanic or Asian people

Statistics on the Effectiveness of Mental Health Treatment for Young Adults

While it’s important to know who is more likely to get help through treatment and the populations who are utilizing treatment services more often than others, it’s also important to know how successful treatment is. When treatment is deemed successful, awareness can spread about how getting help through treatment is something that young adults living with mental health issues should seriously consider.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, when young adults have mental health services including a combination approach of medications and counseling services, there is a 70-90% success rate. This means that, in most cases, getting help through treatment allows young adults to have relief from debilitating symptoms of mental illness and an overall improved quality of mental well-being.

It’s imperative that young adults understand that getting help for mental health conditions through a professional, collaborative approach to treatment is effective. And, that overcoming the hurdles that keep them from getting help can be life-changing and even life-saving.

Guide for Mental Health Issues and Treatment in Young Adults

Young adults may not get help through accessing mental health treatment care for a number of reasons. Identifying and addressing these obstacles to accessing treatment is important if we want the young people in our country to find relief and healing from mental health symptoms and conditions.

Some things that keep young adults from getting help through mental health treatment care can include:

No Awareness of Mental Health Issues or the Effectiveness of Treatment

One of the most common things that keep young adults from getting help through treatment for mental health issues is a lack of awareness. This may include a lack of awareness for general mental health issues keeping young people from even identifying that they may be living with a mental health condition. It can also include the lack of awareness of the fact that mental health treatment approaches are actually effective in helping to reduce the severity and frequency of mental health symptoms. When more awareness is spread about both mental illness and mental health treatment, more young people will have the knowledge necessary to make better decisions about mental health care planning.

Mental Health Stigmas

Many young people don’t get help through mental health treatment due to ongoing mental health stigmas. Stigmas are myths that surround mental illness that keeps the general population fearing and judging those who are struggling with mental health issues. Some stigmas that surround mental health issues may include the myth that all people with mental health issues are violent, that mental health issues are uncurable, and that mental health issues can be controlled with willpower alone. Unfortunately, many young people experiencing the negative symptoms of mental health issues will believe the social stigmas associated with mental health themselves. Thus, never get help for mental health issues and attempt to self-soothe these issues on their own by using drugs or alcohol to numb the pain, isolating themselves from others, etc.

Cost of Treatment

Unfortunately, many young adults don’t have access to mental health treatment due to the high cost of treatment in the US. Without insurance, treatment planning can seem nearly impossible to afford. This is why more and more treatment facilities in the US are teaming up with insurance providers to offer more affordable treatment. For example, Yellowbrick accepts a number of insurance treatment plans and also Medicaid so that more young people who don’t have access to mental health care can get the treatment they need without going into debt. It’s important to do your research and talk to your insurance provider before deciding on a treatment plan and facility for your treatment needs.

Guide for Mental Health Issues and Treatment in Young Adults

New treatment options aimed at helping people struggling with the symptoms of mental health issues are being approved more often than you may think. Furthermore, traditional treatments are still used in combination with these therapies to provide a well-rounded approach to mental health care. Considering all of your options for treatment services can better help young adults and their families make informed decisions about the type of treatment facilities involved in mental health treatment planning.

Some of the most common and effective treatment options for young adult’s mental health issues include:

Comprehensive Assessments: While every mental health treatment facility will have an onboarding process that includes assessments, comprehensive assessments work a little differently. With a comprehensive assessment, you can expect to be asked questions about your previous mental health treatment experiences, family history, medical history, and the symptoms you’re experiencing. These are all standard questions so that your mental health care team can develop an idea of what you need during treatment. But, another aspect of comprehensive assessments is to get young adult patients involved in their own care. This ensures that young adults who need help through treatment are working to meet the goals that are most important to them. And, are actively involved in tracking these goals to see how they progress throughout treatment.

Outpatient Treatment Services: There are two types of generalized mental health care; residential and outpatient. Residential services require patients to live on facility grounds while they get the help they need. But, outpatient treatment allows patients to continue to take care of personal responsibilities while getting the help they need. This can be beneficial in a number of ways as uprooting one’s life to get help can be both hard to manage and overwhelming.

Supportive Housing and Life Skill Development: Some young adults can benefit from an ongoing approach to treatment that includes housing. This is a great option for young adults who want to learn how to live on their own but don’t have the skills necessary to manage symptoms of mental health issues as well as obtain a healthy lifestyle. Supportive housing offers a supportive and structured environment in which young people can learn how to adopt healthy routines. And, with life still developing, young adults can learn invaluable skills like resume building, effective job interview skills, how to cook nutritious meals, and much more. Furthermore, this type of supportive environment can help with relationship building and management skills as it offers a space to live with peers – allowing them to fight off isolation and loneliness as well as develop healthy relationship skillsets.

Guide for Mental Health Issues and Treatment in Young Adults

Having the ability to utilize a number of different types of therapies while in treatment for mental health issues can greatly benefit young adults. Some examples of effective therapy options for young adults living with mental health issues can include:

Having access to a number of therapy services is a benefit as not every type of therapy will be beneficial to every individual. So, it’s important to choose a treatment facility that offers a number of approaches so that you have the ability to try and benefit from each one. And, develop a treatment approach that’s specific to your needs, desires, and goals for treatment and mental healing.

Guide for Mental Health Issues and Treatment in Young Adults

Do you have a young adult in your life who you suspect is struggling with mental health issues? If so, you undoubtedly want to do something to help. Fortunately, there are a few things family members and loved ones can do for young adults who are living with mental health issues including:

Educating Yourself

One of the first steps a family member or loved one can take to help a young adult who is struggling with mental illness can do is to educate and research. With knowledge, you will have a better understanding of the type of mental health condition your loved one may be facing. And, with this knowledge, you can better develop methods of communication and trust-building with your loved one as well as understand the best ways to facilitate a treatment plan. When you have the knowledge you need to assess mental health issues, you can approach both your loved one and a treatment plan with more success.

Be Non-Judgmental and Offer a Listening Ear

Before you can suggest treatment to a young adult who is living with a mental health condition, you must gain their trust. Not all people struggling with mental illness may wish to talk about what they’re experiencing for fear of judgment. So, if your loved one comes to you, don’t force them to open up. Instead, offer a listening ear and never judge them for what they say or experience. Rather, simply offer support and avoid giving them advice based on your own experiences. This can help to gain trust so that you can eventually offer to help them find the help they need.

Approach the Topic of Getting Help

Once you know that your young adult loved one trusts you with information about their mental health issue, you can approach the subject of getting help. Surely, not every young adult will be up to getting help. But, because you have knowledge, you can offer them information about the types of treatments and therapies available so they can decide what they may want to move forward with. Once your loved one has had time and has researched help for themselves, you can offer to help find them a facility that caters to their needs and outcome desires for treatment.

Guide for Mental Health Issues and Treatment in Young Adults

If you or a loved one is ready to take the steps to get help for mental health issues, the process is simple. Research treatment facilities near you that offer the type of treatment approach you require and programs specific to the needs of young adults living with mental health issues.

Choosing Yellowbrick for Young Adult Mental Health Treatment

Yellowbrick offers specific care and treatment services that cater to the needs of the young, emerging adult. Our team of dedicated mental health specialists commits ourselves to assist young adults with gaining the skills necessary to live their adulthoods with confidence and without the debilitating effects of mental health issues.

Find out more about our services, who we treat, and our treatment facility from our website.

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    Bipolar Disorder

    A mental health condition that’s characterized by intense shifts in mood including both manic and depressive episodes.

    Major Depressive Disorder

    People living with Major Depressive Disorder, or MDD, experience episodes of depression and sadness that are debilitating to daily life.

    Anxiety Disorders

    Those living with anxiety disorders experience high levels of anxiety and stress that interfere negatively with daily life.

    Neuroatypical “Spectrum” Individuals and their Families

    These individuals often experience an extended period of anxiety and disruption as the young person ages out of the structured support settings available through the educational and social services systems.

    Thought Disorder

    A mental health issue in which a person’s cognitive function is impaired, resulting in symptoms like experiencing challenges with conducting speech, reading and writing, and behavior.

    Personality Disorders

    Mental health disorders that negatively affect a person’s behaviors, thought patterns, and function. People diagnosed with these disorders experience challenges with managing relationships and understanding various situations.


    Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a mental health condition that people can develop as a result of experiencing traumatic situations, characterized by symptoms including flashbacks, avoidance behaviors, and more.


    A mental health condition that is characterized by specific symptoms of forgetfulness and lack of concentration, which makes it challenging to complete necessary tasks.

    Eating Disorders

    Mental health conditions that interfere with a person’s eating habits, thought patterns, and behaviors in negative ways.


    A mental health disorder diagnosable with the DSM-5 that is characterized by both obsessions and compulsive behaviors.

    Adopted Individuals and Families

    We are committed to the developing specialized services for adopted emerging adults and their families.