Behavioral health concerns, from depression to OCD to addiction, have been increasing due to fears of disease, social isolation, and limited activities associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, new research shows that young adults may be disproportionately affected. This includes an increase in suicide ideation.
What New CDC Data Show About Suicide in Young Adults
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that U.S. adults reported higher adverse mental health conditions in June 2020. Younger adults (aged 18-24 years) were one of the groups that experienced disproportionately worse mental health outcomes, such as increased substance use and suicidal ideation.
In fact, of those adults aged 18-24 years who were surveyed, 25.5 percent reported that they had seriously considered suicide within the previous 30 days. This suicidal ideation was more prevalent among males than females.
Other mental health concerns commonly reported among adults aged 18-24 include:
-Symptoms of COVID-related trauma- and stressor-related disorder
-Symptoms of anxiety disorder or depressive disorder
-Starting or increasing substance use to cope with stress connected to COVID-19
According to CDC professionals, the prevalence of anxiety disorder symptoms was nearly three times that reported in the same period for 2019. Depression prevalence was nearly four times the same period of 2019.
Unfortunately, these new findings are part of a growing trend among U.S. young adults. Another CDC report found that the suicide rate among ages 10-24 years increased 57.4 percent from 2007 to 2018. Between 2007-2009 and 2016-2018, suicide rates increased significantly in 42 states and increased nonsignificantly in 8 states. (You can download the PDF version here.)
Public health experts are not certain what has caused the increase in suicides before the COVID-19 public health emergency. Lack of meaningful social connections, growing financial pressures, anxiety over safety and climate change, and lack of access to mental health resources have been suggested as possible reasons.
What Behavioral Health Providers Can Do for Young Clients At Risk of Suicide
Steps that may be taken among behavioral health providers include:
Health screenings for those who may be at risk
Identify clients most at risk of being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic
Work with clients to find individual, meaningful activities to reduce or prevent symptoms of depression or anxiety
Partner with other health providers, local health agencies, and community groups to increase awareness of and access to behavioral healthcare
Implement a robust follow-up plan for at-risk clients or clients who have survived suicide attempts
Consider alternative ways to deliver behavioral health services, such as telehealth
Monitor client medication use and adherence, if applicable
Research published this year in the Journal of Mental Health Counseling found a significant inverse relationship between number of professional counselors in an area and suicide deaths. Thus, therapists, counselors, and social workers, have an important role in lowering the suicide rate.
If your practice is struggling with the increased demand for behavioral health services, BestNotes has your back. BestNotes EHR solutions allow users to save template letters for follow-ups, as well as send questionnaires for progress monitoring. This helps you reach out to individual clients, improve client outcomes, and better track data for reporting.
The right EHR system can help you accurately document and follow-up your behavioral health and addiction treatment clients for the best outcomes. Contact BestNotes today to learn more about our customizable options.