Hard to Navigate: Growing Up In A Rapidly Changing WorldGrowing up is never easy. But in today’s world, rocked by old issues and connected by novel technologies, growing up is accompanied by new challenges.
Posted on August 24th, 2022 by

Like previous generations, youth today are facing issues of political upheaval, growing income inequality, and social unrest over topics of racism, sexism, and ableism. On top of that, they’re also living through situations previous generations haven’t faced, such as climate change and dealing with the rapidly changing digital world.

In recent years, even before the pandemic, these issues have contributed to a rise in documented mental health cases. Persistent feelings of hopelessness, considerations of suicide, and psychiatric emergency room visits are all increasing for America’s youth. And like many things in American society, mental health issues aren’t felt equally across all communities. In addition to the role biology and environment can play on mental health, racial inequalities, socioeconomic disadvantages, and gender disparities all have effects.

Mental health challenges aren’t new—they’ve been documented as far back as antiquity—but youth today are facing unparalleled hurdles. Vivek Murthy, the U.S. Surgeon General, described the challenges of young people today as “unprecedented and uniquely hard to navigate” in a 2021 advisory. In other words, this isn’t your grandmother’s adolescence.

While tumultuous times affect people of all ages, growing up during them can have particularly lasting effects. “Pretty much every important aspect of well-being is predicted by a person’s mental health earlier in life,” said Daniel Eisenberg, mental health policy researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles and a presenter at this year’s Nobel Conference.

Despite new challenges, today’s youths are growing up in a time when it’s becoming okay to talk about mental health—something more stigmatized in previous generations. In fact, some researchers argue this increased comfort in discussing mental health can partially account for the rise in reported cases of mental health issues.

Whether or not mental health challenges are more prevalent for today’s generation, it’s undoubtedly an important topic that is shaping the world’s future. This year, Nobel Conference 58 will explore factors contributing to the disparities in mental health outcomes for young people and discuss changes that could create a more equitable mental health landscape for future generations.

To learn more about this year’s topic and speakers, visit the Nobel Conference website.


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