Young people today seem far more attuned to the importance of mental health than previous generations have been. And this awareness is vital: With the toll of the COVID-19 pandemic and an array of other social, political and environmental issues plaguing our world today, the mental health of youth in particular seems acutely at risk.
What mental health means — the way it is defined and manifests — is different for everyone. And yet, we all must work to understand and prioritize our mental health. This issue seeks to balance the personal with the collective, the intimate with the social. You’ll encounter research on climate anxiety, the psychology of social media, the harms of wellness culture, as well as the language we use to talk about such issues on a grand scale. But you’ll also find personal accounts of mental health that parse complex experiences with grief, intergenerational trauma and joy. Together, we hope these stories help you discover new ways to better support your own health and the health of those close to you.
Beyond ‘words matter’: The language of mental health
As with most abstract concepts, the language we use to approximate mental health shapes our attitudes toward it. In the case of mental health, this often results in growing up with stigma.
— Violet Taylor
The fear of failure in an immigrant family
When you’re an immigrant who spends your entire life working to be wealthy, oftentimes you work to the detriment of your health.
— Aarthi Muthukumar
A ‘wellness culture’ that robs us of food freedom
Avoidance of food drives more fear, leading to caloric deficits, deprivation and in turn, more fear. It doesn’t take a drastic deficit to produce cascading mental health effects.
— Sarah Siegel
The age of climate anxiety
Climate change-related anxiety is now a worldwide phenomenon, especially among young people. Generation Z must grapple with the burden of being the ones that must solve climate change.
— Sanjana Manjeshwar
An overview of UC Berkeley’s mental health and emotional wellness services
If we are to thrive as students, it is wise to prioritize our mental health. UC Berkeley has a plethora of special mental health and emotional wellness services, available to all students, staff and faculty, that may help you on your journey.
— Abigail Barenfus
How the pandemic resurfaced my grief
We have all felt some form of loss from the pandemic. Life, loved ones, whatever it may be, we are all entitled to our emotional responses to loss and to trauma.
— Maya Banuelos
Easy recipes to lift your mood
When so many aspects of our lives seem out of our control, it’s satisfying to make your own dish and enjoy it right after.
— Kat Smith
Don’t take me back to November
I kept my struggles to myself. Even though I was visibly suffering and in an abusive friendship, it seemed like no one could understand me, nor would they invest any time and energy in recognizing why I was so ill.
— Rina Rossi
Protecting the mind behind our screens
As studies continually investigate the correlation between social media usage and mental health, we have become acutely attuned to the deeper reality behind the screen. Modern online platforms now hold the power to use us as much as — and sometimes even more than — we use them.
— Adriana Temprano
Finding joy in a red bucket hat
Neither of us was talking, but I could sense that our presence was enough to remind each other that it’s okay to have a bad morning.
— Defne Karabatur
The burden of being the faith in the future
The truth of the matter is that our generation hasn’t created most of the problems we face today, but we are the only ones who are incentivized to solve them if we want to see any semblance of a future.
— Amrita Bhasin
How embracing the pain improved my relationships
Amid mental health disorders, there is light at the end of the tunnel. It takes time, frustration, and work to notice the good that comes out of it. Mental health comes with many challenges, but with them also comes character building, deeper friendships and a sense of purpose.
— Geraldine Yue