Why Give to us?
Young adults are in a transitional phase, stepping away from family into the world. Many feel anxious and ill-equipped and the world can seem like a hostile place, with anxiety around job scarcity, the economic and environmental crisis. These worries have led to a mental health epidemic in this age group. Anxiety about change makes it hard to be flexible, respond creatively and adapt to changing circumstances. A sense of futility can lead to depression.
IPPR research shows, in 2015/16, over 15,000 first-year UK students reported a mental health problem, compared to approximately 3,000 in 2006. There has been a 210% increase in university dropouts due to mental health problems from 2009/10 to 2014/15. Student suicides have increased by 79% from 2007 (75) to 2015 (134). In the same IPPR report, 94% of higher education institutions report an increase in demand for counselling services, with some having one in four students in counselling or waiting to be seen.
Anxiety and depression are often treated with quick-fix medication, rather than alternative therapies. Meditation, creative activities and therapies are becoming more widespread in society, but there need to be more opportunities for young adults to access them as they embark into adult life. They need to find out about alternative approaches to self-care.
There are a plethora of options as young adults enter a period of huge transition and transformation. They need to feel empowered and confident to make decisions which will set the course of their future. Mental health issues caused by stress related to social media, body-image, unhealthy eating and over-emphasis on external and material ways of defining success all contribute to an ungrounded arrival into adult life. Many young adults are suffering from existential issues such as alienation, disempowerment, lack of a sense of meaning, and rootlessness, with no satisfying sense of where they come from or who their people are.
To counterbalance the huge amount of time spent on screen, young adults need opportunities to re-connect with their body, inner-selves, others and nature. They need to learn to honour their bodies and minds, manage feelings of anger and sadness as well as happiness and joy, believe in their convictions, and live with integrity resisting succumbing to peer pressure.
Informal surveys of psychology students at the University of Greenwich suggest that around 30% describe that they are ‘exploring spirituality beyond religion’, and the majority of this group also stated that they were looking for additional support and guidance in this area.
We have virtually no initiation into adulthood processes in the UK, so young people often try to ‘self-initiate’ – influenced by media and social media, based on expectation and pressure, by experimenting with clothing, makeup, drugs and sex. Rites of Passage rituals will help them through the symbolic crossing of a threshold, empowering them to confidently make choices and exert agency in the world. Wider Horizons will enable young adults to feel a sense of connectedness to something larger than themselves and facilitate the self-actualisation of participants’ gifts and capacities to contribute to society by reinstating the initiation function of offering them the guidance and support they need at this transformational time in their lives.