The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic triggered lasting effects on teen mental health. Several teenagers suffered from physical and mental issues. Even if they did not contract the virus, most adolescents struggled to adjust to a new normal.
- Teens Suffer From Mental Health Crisis Due to the Pandemic
- The Increasing Rates of Mental Illness and Suicide in Teens
- Addressing the Negative Effect of a Pandemic on Teens
Teens Suffer From Mental Health Crisis Due to the Pandemic
Several teens from all over the world are experiencing a mental health crisis because of the COVID-19 pandemic. People also suffered from the negative psychological effect of contagious diseases circulating in different countries across the globe.
After over two years, people believe that we are about to reach the finish line of this pandemic. People across the globe are starting to ditch their facemask, except where mandates are reappearing.
Children and teens are not immune to the psychological effect of the pandemic. Concerning this, teens are particularly at risk in terms of adolescence’s three primary developmental demands.
The three primary developmental demands include independence, identity formation, and peer relationships.
The Increasing Rates of Mental Illness and Suicide in Teens
Image source: iStock
For the majority of teenagers, even an official end to COVID-19 will not release them from their mental health crises. It will not be easy for them to get away from the grip of anxiety, insecurity, and isolation. These are the things that have kept haunting them for more than two years.
While the COVID-19 cases are increasing, youth mental illness and suicide rates are also rising. According to Curtin and Heron (2019), the suicide rate of young people aged 10 to 24 declined from 2000 to 2007. Unfortunately, the rate almost tripled from 2007 to 2017 before the pandemic started.
In 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that 4 in 10 adolescents suffer from anxiety. They say that they feel persistently sad or hopeless. Meanwhile, 1 in 5 of them considered committing suicide.
Teens’ unhealthy estrangement from their friends and caring adults is amplified by online education. One of the reasons why teenagers struggle in their online education is because they are alone.
Separation from people increases anxiety and its close cousin, depression. It creates physical ailments that may then accelerate the anxiety and depression that lead to harm.
Many teens are trying to do “self-medication” due to emotional distress. Unfortunately, some of them turn to alcohol and other drugs. They do things that they think would help them improve their situation.
Why Home Doesn’t Feel Like Home
Before the pandemic, teens enjoy travelling places away from home with friends. However, since the pandemic began, teens have been forced to stay at home.
Nowadays, not every house was safe, especially for young people. CDC research says that 11% of teen respondents to a poll said that they are suffering from physical abuse. Meanwhile, 55% of them suffer from emotional abuse. They experience it from their own parents or another adult in the household.
Addressing the Negative Effect of a Pandemic on Teens
Image source: iStock
It will still not wholly free adolescents’ minds from trouble despite easing restrictions. In addition to that is the “overwhelming” anxiety from going back to school.
Parents should know that teens could benefit from some parental coaching, perhaps role-playing, on reacclimating to peers.
One of the most important aspects of adolescent growth may need a boost. Identify formation is one of the three cornerstones of teenage growth. Teens must experience the “who am I” phase in their life while they are rounded by independence and peer relationships.
The isolation that young people were able to experience has set back their healthy development. It happened by depriving them of in-person social feedback.
Seven C’s of Resilience
Building character and resilience is one essential part of the solution to address the adverse effects of the pandemic. Dr Kenneth Ginsburg is a paediatrician and an expert on resiliency in youth. He developed what he refers to as the “Seven C’s of Resilience.”
According to Dr Ginsburg, these are all interrelated. It builds on each other and offers,
“In a society that fosters the importance of winning, we must reinforce that it is how we play the game that defines us.”
He also added that parents could help by reinforcing the imperative to do the right things in their teens. They must realise that it is not always the path of least experience.
Dr Ginsburg also emphasises the importance of reinforcing rather than preaching, showing empathy and honour sensitivity, role modelling core values, and counselling youth to forget about perfection and to work instead on improvements.
The following could be the reason why teens are not okay:
- learning loss
- social separation
- loss of important milestones and rites of passages
However, remember that understanding and coaching from caring adults can be a massive help to the youth.
Are You Speaking To Your Kids About Mental Health?
Vaccination: Bringing Brighter Futures to Individuals And Beyond
Discovering the Truth Behind Anorexia in Teens