Report shows mental health concern with college-aged adults during pandemic

Published: Aug. 14, 2020 at 11:11 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - A new report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows college-aged adults are having more suicidal thoughts than any other age group during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Friday, Eyewitness News spoke with a mental health expert who said the data is not surprising. The CDC reports one in four people between the ages of 18 and 24 considered suicide in the last month due to the pandemic.

“It is alarming, but at the same time, it’s no unexpected to hear that numbers are that high,” said Mental Health Association of South Central Kansas Director of Development Eric Litwiller.

LItwiller said the change and uncertainty due to COVID-19 is causing social and financial stress on young adults.

“During a time like this, people enter survival mode. ‘What can I do to make it to tomorrow? What can I do to get my bills paid and keep food in the fridge?’ We can’t control if we have a job tomorrow. We can’t control if we’re allowed to go out to a restaurant or go to a movie,” he said.

Over the last month in 18-to-24-year-olds, 49 percent reported anxiety-disorder behavior, the CDC reports. Fifty-two percent reported depression-disorder behavior. In the broader age group of 25-to-44-year-olds, 40 percent experienced anxiety-or-depression behaviors in the last month due to COVID-19.

Litwiller said self-harming behaviors have risen drastically during the pandemic, and he expects those numbers to get worse before they get better. But there are resources to help people struggling. This includes the COMCARE Crisis Hotline: 316-660-7500.

“Wehn we can’t control all these other things, we think, ‘well, what can we control?’ We can control our bodies, so we can control whether we remain alive or not,” Litwiller said. “We can control whether or not we hurt ourselves.”

Litwiller said he does expect suicide and self-harm numbers to decrease once people start adjusting to the “new normal” that comes with the pandemic.

Copyright 2020 KWCH. All rights reserved.

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