I have been reading more about the effects of covid on the mental health of our teenagers and thought I would share some basic information that might help during these stressful times for all of us. Teen depression and declining mental health are on the rise. Young people are struggling to make sense of their emotions and may not have the experience to manage the overwhelming changes that they have been forced to work through. This age group has experienced a significant increase in anxiety and depression.
Teens and young adults are especially at risk for depression during COVID-19.
Social interactions are an important developmental requirement for teens so with schools being closed and isolation a new part of their lives their mental health is suffering. Young people are feeling increasingly anxious about their future, leading to an increased feeling of hopelessness.
Young adults are not sure their friendships can withstand the long breaks from in-person contact and are struggling with learning and taking classes online. Virtual meetings do not offer the same connection as in-person meetings. Many teens feel like they are missing out on important milestones (and they are) and are experiencing a lack of security with their future and jobs.
It is important to check in with your teens: finding ways to have them see friends outdoors while wearing masks and social distancing can make a difference in their mental health. One article I read listed some major signs of teen depression we all need to watch out for.
1. Mood changes. They are more irritated, angry, and feeling more hopeless.They often show a decrease in their communication or they give short answers.
2. Less interest in academics. They feel that that school is a waste of time and doesn’t matter.There’s an increase in assignments missed, or a refusal to attend virtual classes.
3. Sleep issues. They have difficulty falling asleep or often wake up in the middle of the night. They may also sleep too much.
4. Feelings of hopelessness. They have thoughts or talk about death or suicide.
5. Changes in appearance. They are not taking care of their health, such as showering, basic grooming, or even changing clothes.
6. Lacking interest in social connections. If your child is normally outgoing and communicates often with friends, a lack of interest in texting or video chatting with them, is a reason to be concerned.
7. Change in eating patterns. There is a marked increase or decrease in their eating, and they go through significant weight loss or weight gain.
What can I do? Engage with your teen often.
Remember, your child may not want to worry you or add to any more stress in the family. It is very important to talk and discuss their concerns, engage your teen or young adult in family activities and encourage them to talk about emotions as a regular part of the day. By engaging with them, you are helping them take control of their feelings so they can feel more connected to others.
It is common for many teens to feel that they are the only ones struggling. Reminding them that their peers are also having a hard time adjusting can normalize their feelings and help them feel more supported. Connecting often and regularly with your teen during these challenging times is an important way to support your child.
If you’re concerned about your child’s declining mental health, please call the Center and set up an appointment, our receptionist (602-325-1233) would love to help. If you would like to read more about the Center and counseling for young people during covid please click on the button below: