4 Major Ways the Modern World Impacts Young People’s Mental Health, and What They Can Do To Cope

Young people hanging out on steps, looking mentally healthy.

The modern world is tough on the psyche, especially for younger generations. 

Mental health can be defined as the aggregate of our psychological, emotional, and social wellbeing. It’s most often affected by biological factors, life experiences, and relationships.

But beyond our personal histories, the culture we’re living in can have a massive impact on what we believe about ourselves. And it’s becoming clear that features of modern culture are leading to a mental health crisis.

This article will present you with some possible reasons you might be struggling with your mental health as a young person, and what you can do to make things better.


1. Academic Pressures and Universities Are Causing a Mental Health Crisis

According to a 2018 National College Health Assessment, 63% of college students felt overwhelming anxiety that year. 23% reported having seen a mental health professional.

Increased academic pressures combined with college tuition fees create sources of chronic stress in the present and for the future. 


While higher education is rigorous and costly, there are ways to cope with academic stress.

  • Utilize school resources like study groups, professor’s office hours, and college counselors.
  • Tackle academic challenges as early as possible so you can avoid stress-filled cram nights.
  • Learn about mindfulness and let go of perfection— That test you have to take isn’t until Wednesday. You can recover from a bad grade or two. Building up your sense of mindfulness will ground you in the present, and make you less harsh on yourself.
  • Remember that college is not an absolute necessity for all career paths. Choosing not to attend college is a great decision for many.


2. Lack of Relationships and Loneliness Are Causing a Mental Health Crisis

Along with anxiety, loneliness is a serious problem for young people. This was true even before the pandemic, with remote work and social isolation exacerbating the problem.

The modern world offers you a myriad of ways to isolate yourself. You can have food delivered directly to you, all of your entertainment can be streamed through a computer or a phone, and you can interact with others without being around them.

Yet, human connection is the most fundamental need, and when that need isn’t met, people struggle. 

The challenge comes in how well you can place yourself in situations where making authentic connections is possible.


  • Actively put yourself in uncomfortable social situations. If you struggle with social anxiety, you can combat it by breaking your fears down into small steps, even if you have to start with stepping outside your front door.
  • Become the plan maker with the people you know. Be the one who makes plans to do things in person, and do this regularly.
  • Although it is wonderful that so many people can communicate online, be aware that only interacting online is often not enough to satisfy our human need for connection. It’s like trying to nourish your health by only eating potato chips.
  • Participate in school activities. Join clubs or groups you might be interested in. Explore new hobbies that involve other people. Take things you would normally do alone (like reading a book for example) and do them in a public place.


3. Social Media and Addictive Technology Are Causing a Mental Health Crisis

It’s no secret that excessive smartphone and social media use is harmful to your mental health

Modern technology is designed to appeal to you in the same way a slot machine appeals to a gambler.

In other words, it’s designed to keep your attention for as long as possible. Where you place your attention is where you spend your time living, and tech doesn’t mind if you spend the rest of your life scrolling down feeds.


The key to not letting it get the best of you is to become conscious about your tech use and change your relationship with it.

  • Limit the amount of time time you spend on social media (or get rid of it altogether). Only use it for professional purposes or maintaining social connections.
  • Have rituals surrounding your tech use. For example, charge your smartphone outside your bedroom room every night, so you won’t be tempted to scroll before bed.
  • Consider replacing your smartphone with a flip phone or a dumbphone. Keeping it basic will free up your mind and firmly plant you back in the present moment. People who try this often report higher well-being.
  • Embrace boredom. Addictive technology makes it difficult to be bored, but boredom gives us opportunities for creativity and meaningful self-reflection. When you’re bored, you start noticing life again.


4. Mental Struggle, Stigma, and Self Comparison

We all have a tendency to compare ourselves to others and see how we stack against their accomplishments, experiences, and abilities. As we’ve already seen, social media is perfect for this.

Self comparison is a natural and automatic response, but you need to realize that you’re comparing your life, the life you know, to your idea of someone else’s life.

Unless you know a person well, it’s almost impossible to understand their unique struggles, perspectives, relationships, needs, faults, and ways of finding meaning in the world.

People have tough lives, even those who seem to have it all.

This idea applies to you as well. If you are struggling in a way that’s difficult to see or explain, then others may not understand your reasons for seeking help. Even worse, others may judge your decision. They may even be ignorant enough to tell you that you don’t have real problems.

So remember this: Your struggle is as real as any other.

Your life is your own, and your path is as distinct and complex as your fingerprint.


Saving Your Mental Health and Mastering the Modern World

When you spend less time worrying, you can spend more time living. 

The world is a place of abundant opportunities; opportunities to meet new people, make mistakes, have wild experiences, laugh with your friends, and shoot for lofty dreams.

Every challenge is an opportunity for growth, including those presented to us now.

To review:

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help in your academic work and let go of perfection.
  • Step out of your comfort zone and talk to new people on a regular basis. Social courage may be the most powerful antidote to loneliness.
  • Control your technology instead of letting it control you.
  • You don’t know what strangers have to deal with, and strangers don’t know what you have to deal with, so let go of the comparisons and focus on your own path.

Make the modern world work for you, not the other way around.