The mental health of people aged between 18 to 24 years

by Rahul Devi

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the mental health of people around the world, and recent research has shown that young adults aged between 18 to 24 years have been particularly affected. A study conducted by the Sapien Labs Center for Human Brain and Mind at Crea University in India has shed light on the mental health of youth in India during these challenging times.

The research, which is part of the Global Mind project, collected data from 1,06,427 individuals across 36 states and union territories between April 2020 and August 2023. It is considered to be the largest survey of its kind in India. The study revealed that the mental health of Indians of all ages, especially those in the 18-24 age group, has declined since the start of the pandemic.

One of the key findings of the study is that young people who primarily speak English and use the internet frequently have experienced a significant deterioration in their mental health. This can be attributed to several factors such as reduced social interaction, increased unemployment rates, and heightened internet and social media usage. However, the decline in mental health scores is not linked to economic factors as it is consistent across different income levels.

When comparing mental health outcomes across states in India, it was found that there was less variation among 18-24-year-olds compared to older age groups. The southern states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala had better mental health outcomes than the northern states. Interestingly, despite concerns about academic stress and economic factors, the study highlights the importance of identifying early risk factors to inform prevention strategies.

India has a youth population of over 200 million, and this demographic may face challenges in entering the labor market effectively, even among more educated English-speaking and internet-enabled youth. Shailendra Swaminathan, the director of the Sapien Labs Center for Human Brain and Mind, suggests that given the scale of the problem, a preventive approach to mental health may be necessary.

The current policy paradigm focuses on managing and treating mental health illnesses through access to psychosocial support and crisis interventions. However, considering the widespread and complex nature of the mental health challenges faced by young adults, a more preventative approach might be necessary. A global report previously indicated that delaying smartphone adoption could lead to better mental health outcomes for young adults, suggesting a connection between technology usage and mental well-being.

In conclusion, the Covid-19 pandemic has had a detrimental impact on the mental health of young adults aged between 18 to 24 years in India. The research conducted by the Sapien Labs Center for Human Brain and Mind provides valuable insights into the mental health challenges faced by this demographic. It emphasizes the need for early risk identification and preventive strategies to address the mental health crisis among the youth population. By understanding the factors contributing to this decline, appropriate interventions can be implemented to support the well-being of young adults in India.

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