Identity and Mental Health


Identity is a mental concept which provides a sense of continuity within oneself, a perception of your place around others and in the world. This sense of identity enables an individual to function independently and consistent with their own beliefs and values.

Given the fragile nature of adolescent emotional development, many young individuals often struggle with identity issues and have difficulty identifying themselves or knowing their place in the world. This is known as ‘identity distress’ or is sometimes referred to as an identity crisis or confusion. Identity issues represent a negative emotional state and is not a mental disorder. Older adults can also suffer from identity issues, although this appears to be more prevalent among young individuals. It is also common for young people to struggle fitting in with peers, especially for those who do not have any profound interests or for individuals who lack strong social and communication skills.

Young people may adopt labels depending on their self-perception and understanding, which can affect their mental health. Suffering from other mental health issues can also affect an individual’s self-perception and can impact identity. Inversely, experiencing identity issues can make an individual more likely to suffer from other mental health conditions, such as depression.

Although this guide places an emphasis on young people’s identities, anyone can be affected by the issues discussed in this content and it is important to talk to someone and seek support if you are suffering from a mental health condition.