Health

How are teenagers making up for lost time post-pandemic?

Key Takeaways

  • The Covid-19 pandemic had a major impact on teenagers emotionally and developmentally.
  • As the epidemic slows down, teenagers face a daunting task to get themselves back on track.
  • Parents and caregivers should be prepared to support teens at this stage, especially when it comes to mental health.

There is no question that the Covid-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on teenagers, many of whom have been deprived of opportunities for sports, activities, club meetings, proms, private learning and social networking, all while facing public health concerns, a The threat of recession, and other social problems.

A new study from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that social and educational disruptions during the COVID-19 pandemic were linked to poorer mental health and higher prevalence of suicide attempts. Among high school students age 18 and younger, nearly three-quarters (73.1%) reported at least one adverse childhood experience during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the virus is still spreading, restrictions have been lifted and many teenagers have returned to classrooms, enrolled in college or started jobs. How are they making up for lost time and what does the future of adolescent mental health look like?

Learning to adapt

“Teens are recovering emotionally from the pandemic in different ways,” says Lena Suarez-Angelino, MSW, LCSW. “Some have been able to demonstrate more resilience and ’emotional toughness’ in their ability to problem-solve and think more creatively about their current situation. Other teenagers are having a tougher time emotionally, struggling to regain motivation and a ‘personal’ going to adjust back to the world, where time management, appearance and socialization are at the forefront of their daily lives.”

Teens have endured a lot since the pandemic began, including divorce, death, food insecurity, and other traumatic experiences. Many have lost time with friends and now struggle to meet new people or form relationships with others.

So many teenagers suffer losses, including loss of memories or experiences. Even the most resilient teenagers have had a tough time.

Kerry Cooper, LSCW

Grief is a process and these teenagers are actually grieving.

— Kerry Cooper, LSCW

“Grief is a process and these teens are truly grieving,” says Kerry Cooper, LCSW, a holistic therapist and author of “Mental Health Uncensored: 10 Foundations Every Parent Needs to Know.”.

There is no question that the impact of the epidemic on adolescents is significant. Ashley Hudson, a licensed marriage and family therapist, noted that the learning and development of social skills was halted or delayed during the pandemic, causing many teens to experience social anxiety or find it difficult to make new friends or build strong, meaningful relationships.

“The epidemic has affected us all, but teenagers face a difficulty that is nearly impossible for adults to fully understand,” explains Michael Klinkner, a licensed clinical social worker.

Fortunately, “(many) teenagers turn to their friends, teammates, and peers as a source of comfort in school-related activities. Because they shared similar difficult experiences, they were able to use each other as positive supports. Teens are able to relate to other teens about years gone by in a way that no one else can.”

Stigmatizing mental illness

The pandemic has brought an onslaught of mental health concerns and conditions, especially among younger generations, but it has also increased awareness of mental illness and help-seeking behavior in a way that was not there before.

Because everyone has felt the mental health effects of the epidemic—adults and children alike—there are more conversations about mental health, more resources are being allocated to mental health care for young adults, and more teens are opening up about their experiences with anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. . Health conscious.

Since 2020, there has been an improvement in policies, programs and mental health services, as more people advocate for the mental health and wellbeing of our young people.

Nevada, Utah and Virginia are among the first states to enact “student mental health days” that allow students to take absences for mental and behavioral health.

The Youth Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Act of 2021 is another bill introduced in the House and would support the development of peer-to-peer support programs, educational seminars, social media applications for mental and behavioral health purposes, training programs and more. Telehealth services, among other uses.

While the pandemic has brought with it many negative experiences, it has encouraged more people to talk openly about their mental health and prompted young adults to take a more proactive, preventative and holistic approach to mental health care.

This generation offers more access to mental health apps, peer-to-peer support groups, and other digital mental health platforms, with more online resources, programs, and communities than ever before.

“At a time when face-to-face connection becomes difficult, teenagers are starting to use these platforms as the only way to connect,” Klinkner said. “They continue to use technology to connect with friends, both local and international.”

Providing adolescent mental health support

“Adolescents’ recovery and future will depend a lot on how adults provide the care they need in the next few years,” Klinkner said. “The pandemic has affected us all, but teenagers have experienced a version of hardship that is nearly impossible for adults to fully understand.”

As a parent, you should talk regularly with your teen about how they’ve been affected and acknowledge how challenging this time has been, Klinkner explains. You can support their efforts to maintain the relationship and give them space to process uncertainty, fear, and grief.

She recommends making regular offers to connect them with a therapist, and if or when they say ‘yes’, working with them to find a suitable match.

Teens don’t know how to ask for help or feel comfortable doing so, especially if they face stigma at home. As a society, we can make it easier for teens to access free or low-cost mental health care by providing screenings, resources, and mental health services in systems where teens live, work, and play, such as schools and community organizations.

As an educator, community member, or advocate, you can support teens by advocating for more policies, funding, and resources to be allocated to teen mental health care.

What does this mean for you?

The epidemic has highlighted the importance of adolescent mental health and the need for more mental and behavioral health services. The reality is that teenagers is Beginning to make up for lost time, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t mourning lost time.

We need to give our teens a place to talk, share their feelings, ask for support, and most importantly, make services available when they need them.

Countless organizations and mental health organizations such as the Jade Foundation, Trevor Project, Active Minds, and Teen Talk focus on youth mental health and wellness and work closely with community members to create more inclusive, supportive environments that allow teens to survive. does not help to stay , but thrive.

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