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Young Adults and Social Isolation

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Al: This is Al Waller, your host for ClearPath Radio – Your Roadmap to Health and Wealth. The CDC reports that young adults aged 18-24 are one of the populations experiencing the most adverse mental health conditions associated with COVID-19. Joining me is Mihaela Vincze, public health expert for nonprofit Transamerica Institute, here to discuss the impact of social isolation on this population. Al: Thanks for joining me. Mihaela: Thank you for having me.

Al: We all know the pandemic has introduced negative mental health consequences for many people. So why is it important to learn about the impact of Covid-19 on young adults specifically? Mihaela: Social distancing has caused many people to feel lonely, but according to the BBC Loneliness experiment, young adults report the highest rates of loneliness. This is especially concerning because socialization during our younger years is crucial to our social learning and emotional growth. So even though people of all ages are experiencing the negative impacts of the pandemic, young adults may be looking for some tips on how to maintain their social relationships as well as their personal wellbeing during this time. Al: So what can young adults do to manage their loneliness after months of social distancing and Zoom calls? Mihaela: Well I can definitely relate to this concept of so called “Zoom fatigue,” and something that’s helped me is planning fun activities during video calls such as the virtual spa day my friends and I recently had. Other ideas include virtual workout classes, cooking lessons, or a book club. However, for anyone who is exhausted with virtual socialization, maybe try writing letters or sending care packages to your friends instead. Al: A little effort can go a long way and those are some fun ideas for staying connected, which is so important for our mental health. For those wondering, what are some of the signs that someone might be experiencing mental health challenges? Mihaela: One important sign to look out for is a major change in lifestyle or habits. For example, many young adults who are experiencing mental health difficulties may have turned to unhealthy habits such as substance abuse, excessive screen time, or a sedentary lifestyle. Al: What are some healthy alternatives to cope with the pandemic and avoid harmful habits? Mihaela: Try to find a healthy habit that you enjoy. Activities such as physical exercise, meditation, or creative hobbies can help reduce difficult emotions and help us avoid unhealthy habits. Most importantly, for any person of any age group who is experiencing mental health struggles, remember, you are not alone and there are several ways to seek help. Al: What resources do you recommend for young adults who may be experiencing mental health struggles for the first time? Mihaela: The Jed Foundation is dedicated to protecting the emotional health specifically of teens and young adults. Their website jedfoundation.org features an educational Mental Health Resource Center, as well as methods to seek help with emotional struggles. Also, for any young adults who would like to speak with a friend about their mental health but are unsure of what to say, the website seizetheawkward.com provides tools for having a conversation about mental health. Al: This is all great information that can be helpful to young adults, and also people of any age group. Thank you for sharing, and thank you again for joining us, Mihaela. Mihaela: Thank you for having me! Al: This has been another episode of ClearPath Radio – Your Roadmap to Health & Wealth. I’m your host Al Waller – thanks for listening.

Al Waller is a long time native of the Baltimore area. He entered the field of Human Resources Management starting as an HR Generalist with PwC (Pricewaterhouse-Coopers). This marked the beginning of a 30 year career that advanced into the management level for locally and globally based corporations. His primary area of expertise has focused on but not limited to: Talent Acquisition /Retention, Employee Relations as well as Training & Development.