Young Adult Mental Health & Substance Abuse Treatment Centers

How to Tell If a Young Adult Needs Mental Health Support: 10 Red Flags to Watch for This Summer

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Is your young adult child home for the summer between college semesters? Or maybe you just took a summer vacation together and observed new behaviors that are troubling you? Summer is often a time when parents or other relatives notice potential warning signs that a young adult may be struggling with their mental health.

While every young adult is unique, Newport Institute’s clinical experts recommend watching for mental health red flags in 10 specific areas. Read on to learn what to look for and how to support a young adult to get the care they need.

Key Takeaways

  • Summer can be a time when young adult mental health issues come to the forefront.
  • Parents of young adults should be aware of common warning signs of depression, anxiety, substance use disorder, and other mood or personality disorders.
  • Participating in residential treatment during the summer can help minimize interruptions to a young adult’s college attendance.
  • Newport Institute’s integrated model of care is specialized for ages 18–35, and is proven to result in sustainable healing.

Why Parents Often Notice Young Adult Mental Health Symptoms in Summer

Some parents live with their young adult children all year round. But if everyone’s busy with their own thing, the family may not spend much time together on a daily basis. In other families, parents may not see their grown child for months if the young adult is away at college, or lives and works far from home.

Either way, it’s often easier for parents to notice a potential young adult mental health problem during the summer. Kids come home from school, families take vacations together. It’s also the season for reunions, barbecues, and other social gatherings. And that means more opportunities for relatives to observe a young adult’s behavior, personality, or mood changes.

Moreover, summer can be a minefield for young adults who need structure and responsibilities in order to stay inspired and on track. Without clear direction, it’s easier for young people to drift into unhealthy habits, like staying up late, drinking too much, and spending too much time on their phone. Consequently, summer can be a trigger for mental health and substance abuse conditions, or it can make existing issues worse.

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10 Behaviors That May Indicate a Young Adult Needs Mental Health Support

Below are the most common young adult mental health warning signs that parents and other loved ones may notice during the summer.

#1: Irregular Sleeping Schedule

It’s not unusual for young adults to stay up late and get up late in the morning. However, extreme sleep issues can be a sign of a mental health issue. Not sleeping at night or sleeping too much can be a symptom of depression or bipolar disorder.

#2: Loss of Interest in Activities They Used to Enjoy

Having hobbies and interests is part of forming authentic connections with yourself and the world around you. Of course, it’s natural for a young adult to let go of some interests as they age and find new ones instead. But when no new passions arise and they don’t seem to care about anything very much, that can be a sign of a mental health issue.

#3: Disregarding Their Appearance and Surroundings

Is their room messy and disorganized? Have they become less attentive to their personal grooming? Focusing too much on their appearance is often bad for young adults’ self-esteem. But ignoring personal hygiene and not caring how they look or what their living space is like may indicate a mental health problem.

#4: Behaviors Associated with Substance Abuse

It can be hard to recognize the difference between social drinking or drug use at college, and a substance abuse problem. Substance abuse is characterized by using alcohol or substances as a form of self-medication for stress, difficult emotions, and mental health issues. This can escalate into chemical dependence and a substance use disorder. Signs to watch for include fatigue, slurred speech, weight changes, sleep problems, and financial problems, including asking parents for money.

#5: Changes in Weight or Eating Habits

Weight changes, eating too much, and not eating enough can be signs of disordered eating or an eating disorder. Eating disorders are mental health issues in and of themselves. And they are also manifestations of underlying anxiety, depression, or traumatic stress. In addition, weight changes can be a sign of a substance use disorder.

#6: Staying Plugged in All the Time

When young adults constantly scroll on their phone, they may be using technology as a way to escape real-life situations and numb difficult emotions. And if they spend most of that time on social media, it might be making them feel even worse. A growing body of research suggests that young adults’ social media use is associated with increases in their symptoms of depression and anxiety.

#7: Expressing Low Self-Esteem and Worthlessness

Sometimes it’s clear that a young adult is struggling because they’re expressing troubling feelings and opinions. Don’t take it lightly if your grown child makes statements like “I can never do anything right,” “Everybody would be happier without me around,” or “I hate my life.”

#8: Signs of Self-Harm

Young people tend to self-harm as a way to cope with intense emotional distress. These negative emotions may be caused by depression or anxiety, feelings of isolation, relationship challenges, and difficulties at school or work. Signs of self-harm include unexplained cuts or bruises, wearing clothes that cover up their skin even in warm weather, and blood stains on bedding, towels, or tissues.

#9: Withdrawal from Friends

Have they stopped socializing with friends they used to be close with? Or maybe they connect with friends online but almost never in real life? Do they have a new friend group that you never met or heard about before? It’s worth talking to them about what caused the changes and how they feel about it.

#10: Extreme Mood Swings

Changes in a young adult’s mood and behaviors may indicate a mental illness such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or borderline personality disorder. Many of these mental health disorders begin or peak in young adulthood. That’s why it’s so important to help your young adult get a mental health assessment at the first sign of a problem.

Young Adult Mental Health Treatment at Newport Institute This Summer

If a young adult is exhibiting any of the above signs, the first step is to contact Newport Institute. Our experts can complete a full assessment and provide treatment options. Newport Institute provides specialized residential care for young adults to help them learn healthy coping skills, strengthen family relationships, and build resilience.

Many young people and families find that accessing treatment during the summer months is more convenient than during the year. There’s no need to take a leave of absence from college, and summer jobs or internships can be cancelled or postponed more easily than year-round activities. In the fall, young adults can go back to school or work with stronger self-awareness, better coping skills, and a support network of caring peers.

Start the healing journey today. Contact us for a free mental health assessment.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are young adults struggling with?
  • What is failure to launch in young adults?
  • How can a parent help a young adult who is struggling?
  • How do you motivate young adults?
Mental Health / May 30, 2023

Newport Institute

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