Teens, Mental Health, and the PandemicPat Fontana
The uncertainties and challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic have been stressful for almost everyone across the globe. We have been under orders to stay at home, maintain our distances from other people, and wear masks when out in public. Many people have lost their jobs or have had to put their careers on hold. Businesses are struggling to keep up. The pandemic has also affected teenagers in a significant way. In fact, a recent study has found a concerning link between teens, mental health, and the pandemic.
Most schools shifted to online learning in the spring, shortly after it became apparent that COVID-19 was an extremely contagious virus. Teenagers in middle school and high school suddenly had to stay home all day, isolated from their friends. Some struggled with the concept of online learning. Now that school is starting back up for the fall, they are faced with the challenges of continuing the online learning model or the uncertainty of returning to a school that may leave them susceptible to the virus.
Staying home has been challenging for most adults, as they have had to adjust to working remotely and overseeing their children’s online school sessions. Teenagers, in particular, have felt the impact of this isolation as they tend to depend on and thrive on personal interaction with their friends. Not being able to participate in any outside activities has also taken a toll on their mental health.
Mental Health and the Pandemic
A Harris Poll conducted online, on behalf of 4-H from May 4 to May 14, 2020, found that 7 out of 10 teenagers were struggling with mental health issues during the pandemic. Of the 1,516 respondents ages 13-19 who participated in the poll:
- 64% said the experience of COVID-19 will have a lasting impact on their generation’s mental health.
- 67% said sometimes the pressure they feel at school, home, etc. feels like too much to handle.
- 65% said COVID-19 has negatively impacted the mental health of society overall.
- 43% also say, “the way things are going, I don’t know how I’m going to cope with the stress if it continues at this pace.”
- 65% also say, “the current pandemic has increased stress on my family.”
- 71% also feel misunderstood by other generations, saying, “most older people do not understand the struggles of young people today.”
Among those participating in the Harris Poll, 61% said “The COVID-19 pandemic has increased my feeling of loneliness.” Other stressors on the teenagers’ mental health included:
- Inability to hang out with friends/family in person – 43%
- Conducting school online – 42%
- Being stuck at home with my family – 40%
- Worrying about me/my family getting sick – 38%
- Cancellation of extracurricular activities/summer internships and jobs – 34%
- Loss of normalcy and routine – 34%
Pretending to Be Happy
The teenagers participating in the poll said they are three times as likely to experience peer pressure to hide their feelings during the pandemic than to drink or do drugs. 62% said they were “tired of pretending to be happy all the time, being sad or anxious sometimes is part of a human experience.” They stated that they would hide their feelings so they wouldn’t worry others around them or would put their feelings aside so they could get something else done.
Reduce the Stigma
Mental health in adults has its own stigma which must be overcome so that individuals can seek out and accept the help they need. Likewise, teenage mental health comes with its own stigmas. The teenagers participating in the Harris Poll said they are very concerned about how mental health issues are treated, especially for their age group.
The majority of the teenagers agreed with the statements that:
- “It’s time for Americans to talk more openly and honestly about mental health issues in this country.”
- “As a culture, we should embrace both the ups and downs of mental health; it’s okay to feel bad sometimes.”
- “I wish more young people were more comfortable asking for help when it comes to their mental health.”
Help for Your Mental Health During the Pandemic
At R&A Therapeutic Partners, we understand how stressful the COVID-19 pandemic is for the whole family. It can be overwhelming to deal with the isolation and uncertainty during these challenging times. We are here to support you and your mental health. At R&A Therapeutic Partners, we will help you find the path that works best for you. We also offer in office and telehealth therapy options during COVID-19. We encourage you to contact the Miami therapeutic consultants Raymond Estefania and Ana Moreno to find out the services R&A Therapeutic Partners offers. Call us at 786-452-7352 to schedule your appointment.
At R&A Therapeutic Partners Raymond Estefania and Ana Moreno specialize in substance use and mental health disorder evaluations, treatment, intervention and therapeutic/educational consulting for clients throughout the greater South Florida area, as well as nationally and internationally. For more resources and information please visit Therapeutic-Partners.com or on Facebook.