GIVE A LITTLE, HELP A LOT
Mental health experts are discovering the adverse effects of the COVID-19 event on adolescents and teenagers. Sarah Goodman, Director of Research and Knowledge Dissemination at JED, writes, "the perfect storm because of job losses, social isolation, and fear about the threat of the virus."
It is hard to understand the full impact of our youth's emotional health, but studies show 40.9% of them exhibit signs of mental health symptoms because of the pandemic. A study by the CDC study found that 25% of 18-24 reported suicidal thoughts (https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6932a1.htm). Mental health issues were on the rise before the COVID -19 event but increased primarily because of a lack of access to mental health services and peer support resources.
Adolescents and the teen years are when they form independence and self-reliance. Teens typically look to friends for peer support. The pandemic has made this social connection difficult.
The experts say that we can help adolescent and teenagers by doing the following:
First, establish regular routines. Routines provide reassurance and promote a sense of purpose.
Second, provide a safe space to share concerns and disappointments. Students miss campus life at school.
Third, limit watching the news. The news reports focus on the negative aspects of events. This negativity can be overwhelming and discouraging. It can bring fear.
Fourth, do some of the things your family did before the pandemic. If you had a Thursday pizza night, keep doing that but at home.
Last, get them involved in safe social connections with peers. Prolonged isolation, experts say, can lead to anxiety and depression. Limit their time on their device and get them to do something active.
The current COVID-19 episode continues to deliver more uncertainty and an ever-changing landscape. As we navigate this unsettling season, it is essential to support our teens and each other.
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