REDWOOD CITY, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--New research from Telosity by Vinaj Ventures, the leader in the youth mental health investor space, indicates that school is the top trigger for depression and anxiety for a majority of America’s teenagers and young adults. The June survey of 1,000 individuals aged 14-25 also demonstrates that teenagers and young adults embrace technology as a positive force in their lives, in contrast to reports of technology’s negative impact on the cohort’s mental health.
“This latest research is further validation of our recently published Youth Wellness & Mental Health: A $26 Billion Opportunity, which explores the demand and investment opportunity for tech-enabled, mental health solutions to help combat rising rates of youth anxiety, depression and suicide,” said Faye Sahai, Partner at Telosity by Vinaj Ventures. “There is a massive need for these tech-enabled solutions. As we cite in the market guide, 1 in 6 youth between the ages of 6 and 17 in the U.S. experience a mental health disorder; suicide is the second leading cause of death among people between the ages of 10 and 34 each year.”
The new survey depicts a cohort suffering from anxiety (69.4%) and depression (52.7%); only 21.4% report never experiencing either of those challenges. But it also demonstrates the younger demographic’s resilience and willingness to explore different avenues to nurture their well-being, whether through technology, such as telehealth, wellness apps or social media, or through more time-tested avenues, such as being in nature, cooking, traveling or spending time with friends.
Telosity’s research reveals that catastrophic events such as school shootings are taking their toll on young people, with more than 50% of respondents now concerned about attending school in person. Along with school, respondents cited family, friends, society’s expectations and COVID as leading causes of mental health challenges.
Young people seek treatment, but lack of accessibility and affordability hinder options
The survey did share some good news: more than half of teens and young adults receive mental health or wellness treatment at least once a month, with 25% receiving it weekly.
However, many students struggle to secure the services when needed due to affordability issues (60%) or lack of appointment availability (30%), creating a dire need for additional mental health services in the U.S. More than 60% of respondents acknowledge that mental health help is offered in their schools, but 64.6% of high school students and 54% of college students don’t use those services. Stigma continues to be an issue, especially for high school students and despite celebrities speaking publicly about their battles with mental health.
Technology to the rescue
While technology poses some risks, 70% of the survey respondents agree that technology has positively impacted their mental health. While an in-person therapist is often the preferred route for mental health treatment, young people have few qualms about turning to technology, including social media platforms and apps, for care and comfort. By a healthy margin (68%), young people prefer to have 24/7 access to on-demand mental health care services versus making an in-person appointment.
“Healing can only happen in a safe space,” said Anish Srivastava, Founder and General Partner of Telosity by Vinaj Ventures. “Lower-income or marginalized communities with limited options outside their designated school system—that may not cater to their needs, welcome their preferred identity or provide a physically safe environment—stand to benefit most from telehealth. Wealthier groups with more resources can switch to private schools, homeschool or take advantage of specialized private practice options. Telehealth offers a much wider pool of professionals to find the best possible match.”
The survey acknowledges that over 60% of youth turn to social media when battling loneliness. For young people who don’t feel supported by their local community, social media can provide that sense of belonging that is essential to their mental health. For example, in areas or schools that are anti-LGBTQIA+, social media can offer solace and a connection to like-minded people. Of the survey respondents who identify as LGBTQIA+, 48% report that one of the community’s biggest challenges is having their issues taken seriously.
The survey also unpacks some gender differences in the type of community sought:
- A majority of males (69.6%) chose gaming, compared to females (38.3%) and those who identify as fluid (47.6%)
- Females overwhelming chose social media (71.2%), compared to males (58.9%) and those who identify as fluid (44.8%)
- A slight majority of females also selected television (52.2%), compared to males (40.7%) and those who identify as fluid (47.6%)
- Females are more likely to seek connections with friends in person and virtually (58.6%), compared to males (42.4% and 34.2%) and those who identify as fluid (38.1% and 41.9%)
Peer-to-peer support ranks highest as the most helpful online solution
Asked what online services or activities respondents found to be the most beneficial to support their mental health, peer-to-peer, chat and tech support ranked at the top. Numerous studies have acknowledged that mobile apps can be effective tools to assess, manage and treat youth mental health.
“Young adults have a powerful need for affirmation and seek authenticity in their relationships,” said Sahai. “This tracks with peer-to-peer support as a much-sought solution for helping to cope with mental health challenges.”
Importance of family support
Asked to name their parents’ top concerns, respondents cited the impact world events have on their well-being, followed by the use of drugs and alcohol and school shootings.
Of the respondents who reported that their parents don’t believe in mental health (30%), more than 50% feel their parents are judging them for having these challenges. Having family support is also named a key challenge by respondents who identified as being part of the LGBTQIA+ community.
“In light of the affordability and accessibility issues for consistent mental health treatment, tech-enabled solutions offer an opportunity to provide at scale the connectivity, community and support young people crave to help them mitigate their mental health challenges,” said Srivastava.
Download the complete survey results.
Download the free market report, Youth Wellness & Mental Health: A $26 Billion Opportunity.
About Telosity by Vinaj Ventures
Vinaj Ventures is an innovation and investment services boutique consulting firm. Telosity by Vinaj Ventures focuses on early-stage companies with affordable and scalable solutions to improve mental well-being in young people. Companies that Telosity has supported include Daybreak Health, Flipd, Ksana Health, Manatee, Maslo, MindRight, MyLife (acquired by Meredith Corporation) and Neolth. For more information, please visit www.telosity.co.