Why Do Young People Experience More Mental Health Issues Than Other Age Groups?

Why Do Young People Experience More Mental Health Issues Than Other Age Groups?

A Man wearing a open shirt, standing sad

Understanding whether young people experience life satisfaction and whether well-being can be linked to various levels of personal autonomy as they age is crucial since psychological well-being reveals itself in all facets of human activity. This quantitative study was created, as part of an international effort to better understand young people’s autonomy as they enter adulthood. The study’s major goals were to evaluate any age-related differences in the relationship between psychological well-being and autonomy and to interpret them. We sampled 1,148 young individuals aged 16 to 21 from Madrid, Spain, and Bogotá, Colombia, for this goal.

Psychological Well-Being and Autonomy in Young Adults

Researchers assessed them using Ryff’s Psychological Well-Being Scale and the Transition to Adulthood Autonomy Scale created by Bernal et al. The findings indicate that almost all of the EDATVA scale’s dimensions strongly and favorably connect with those on the Psychological Well-Being Scale. The Psychological Well-Being Scale found a moderate correlation between self-organization and environmental mastery as well as life purpose on the EDATVA scale. Ryff’s scale of autonomy showed the strongest association with the EDATVA scale of understanding context.

The older 18–21 age group scored higher than the younger 16–17 age group in every dimension on both the EDATVA and the Psychological Well-Being Scale. Other investigations, particularly support the findings of this study, especially regarding the disparities in scores for the two measures according to age groups. Future research can now examine the association between psychological well-being and autonomy as independent variables in various segments of the population, thus offering new research directions.

Subjective Well-Being vs. Eudaimonic Well-Being

The field of psychology in general has become more interested in psychological well-being as a result of developments in positive psychology (Henn et al., 2016; Hides et al., 2016). Due to this, the scientific literature approaches the construct from two polarized angles. First, a hedonic perspective defines psychological well-being as the outcome of a personal experience on a subjective temporal plane that is characterized by high levels of positive affect and life satisfaction.

Because of this, it emphasizes subjective well-being, particularly as it relates to happiness, life satisfaction, and positive affect (Henn et al., 2016). In contrast, the second perspective views psychological well-being from a eudaimonic standpoint as a process of self-realization by which people progress over time. As a result, it connects to abilities rather than results.

Materials and Procedures
Descriptive Goals

In the context of a larger investigation on young people’s autonomy and psychological well-being, this article presents chosen, partial findings from studies conducted in Spain and Colombia. Analysis of the connections between young people’s psychological well-being and autonomy was the study’s principal goal. This supports the hypothesis (H1) that, for the sample of study participants, there are statistically significant correlations between psychological well-being and autonomy.

By dividing the population into two age groups—young people under the age of 18 and adults over the age of 18—the second purpose was to investigate the differences between psychological well-being and autonomy according to age. This addresses the hypothesis (H2) that there are statistically significant variations in both the autonomy and psychological well-being dimensions as a function of age, with the underlying premise that participants in the older age group will score higher.

We adopted a quantitative approach and an ex post facto pre-experimental design since they were practicable and appropriate for the nature of this descriptive study.


The majority of participants were college and high school students. Young people who were employed gathered the data, along with participants who were supervised by child protection agencies. We chose not to include those people as inclusion criteria if they had functional, physical, or mental challenges that prevented them from taking part in the study.

Various Tools

Researchers carried out the study utilizing two techniques. The first one, the Ryff’s Psychological Well-Being Scale, is a multidimensional scale that evaluates the elements that affect a person’s psychological well-being. Dáz et al. translated it into Spanish in 2006. It comprises 39 items with responses ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 6 (strongly agree) on a Likert-type assessment scale. The scale’s six dimensions correspond to the favorable characteristics of psychological well-being as defined by Ryff (1989). The first dimension is developing a favorable attitude about oneself or self-acceptance. Measures self-esteem and awareness of one’s own strengths and limitations, this dimension has six questions ( = 0.83).

Data analysis and procedure

The human research ethics committee of the universities involved in the research authorized this study, and it complies with the Declaration of Helsinki (64th WMA, Brazil, October 2013). We applied the models methodically and gathered data primarily during school hours using a pencil and paper format. The participating centers, the participants’ legal guardians, and the participants’ own informed consent were all obtained. After gathering the information, we coded, organized, and entered the responses into a computer database for later statistical processing.


Here are the findings for the first goal, which involved examining the connections between the EDATVA and the Psychological Well-Being Scale dimensions. Table 1 displays the results of Pearson’s correlation coefficient for the various EDATVA and Psychological Well-Being Scale dimensions. Nearly every dimension on both scales showed a significant link with a positive direction. On the EDATVA scale, self-organization scored highly correlated with the Psychological Well-Being Scale’s environmental mastery (r = 0.447; p = 0.01) and purpose in life (r = 0.568; p = 0.01). These findings lead to moderate correlations and demonstrate that a young person’s level of self-organization correlates positively with their level of environmental mastery and sense of purpose in life.

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