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More Than Half of Recent Graduates Are Not Emotionally Prepared for Professional Life

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The Mary Christie Institute recently conducted a study on America’s youth and found that more than half reported mental health problems. This is a worrying result, as depression and anxiety overwhelm recent graduates trying to find their place in the workforce.

Young women struggle more than young men.

Over half (51%) of the young professionals surveyed said they had needed help with mental or emotional health issues in the last year. 43% screened positive for anxiety; 31% for depression. Women had worse mental health than men. 68% of males reported good or excellent mental well-being, while 45% of women said the same.

According to their website, The Mary Christie Institute was founded in 2003 and is dedicated to “improving the emotional and behavioral health and youth and young adults with a special focus on American college students.” They talk about the incredible pressures and remarkable changes our youth have experienced:

The last six years have seen young professionals graduate in an uncertain and anxious time. These young people have witnessed the norms of human behavior change in real time, from the rapid growth of social media to the political and cultural divisions to the massive changes caused by the global pandemic. In their twenties, employees were still in grade school when smartphones were introduced. Many employees discovered that technology that provided instant connectivity and learning opportunities could also be used to distract, addict, or alienate.

The COVID pandemic also disrupted many people’s lives in their 20s and 30s. It wasn’t war. They weren’t sent to foreign countries to die or be killed. But the damage was still severe.

Half of these young professionals saw their college experiences significantly disrupted due to COVID-19. As milestones and experiences (including graduation), were transferred to virtual modalities, approximately half of them lost their college experience. Many of these young professionals also began their first job from home, and may not have had the opportunity to meet their co-workers in person. Students were reporting more mental distress in college due to the pandemic.

We haven’t even talked about social media…

Many respondents felt that college did not prepare them for adult life. Is that surprising, considering the focus of academic institutions these days?

These are some sobering facts:

53 percent of young professionals reported feeling burnout at least once a week.

Nearly half (45%), of young professionals, believe that their work environment has had a negative impact on their mental health over the past year.

Nearly half (46%) of young professionals described their financial situations as often or frequently stressful.

39% of respondents stated that their college didn’t prepare them for the behavioral and emotional impact of transitioning to work.

It’s tempting, as a curmudgeon to label those just starting adulthood “snowflakes” and to criticize them for being weak-minded or narcissistic. The Daily Mail, a publication I like, published a headline about this study. It read, “What a bunch of snowflakes!” A shocking survey found that nearly half of the college graduates aren’t emotionally ready for a 9-5 job.

Although I agree with Daily Mail’s views, I will disagree with them on this issue. I’ve witnessed firsthand the emotional devastation that the Orwellian COVID response has caused our leaders. It is hard to underestimate the psychological toll of having up to two years of your formative teenage years taken away from you.

Add to this the guilt that is constantly being taught to you–you are a racist, you are causing the death on the planet, and you are at fault for the sins committed hundreds of years ago by your ancestors (or vice versa, everyone’s out there to get you). It’s easy to see why you have a generation of anxious, stressed-out teens.

I saw the damage these forces were doing to my children. My wife and I tried our best to minimize their suffering, but it has not been easy. My son won’t get the college diploma back, but my daughters will never see what high school is like. Our young were sold to our elders, or should I say they?

It is tempting to say that America’s youth are a bunch of wimps. But I am afraid we did this to them and I fear for their future.

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