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The Impact of Covid-19 on Teen Mental Health

The Impact of Covid-19 on Teen Mental Health

As the number of COVID cases rose throughout the year, the world was put on a complete lockdown that resulted in social isolation to prevent the further spread of the illness. But during this lockdown period, many find the consequence of social isolation taxing on their mental health.

One population that studies are finding is that the pandemic is taking a considerable toll on our teens and adolescents. Until recently, very few studies looked at the psychological effects of COVID on teens. As research continues to examine the impacts of COVID-19 on teen mental health, knowing how to help your teen stay on track to recovery matters now more than ever before.

What Has Data Shown About COVID-19 and Teen’s Mental Health?

In the first few months of the pandemic, researchers found that adolescents with and without pre-existing mental health conditions experienced a decline in mental health symptoms. Before the pandemic, many children already lived with generalized anxiety, ADHD, OCD, depressive disorders, and other illnesses. Data has shown that mental health issues have more than doubled from 2020-2021 due to the pandemic. Many professionals have found that the pandemic has exacerbated these symptoms within their patients.

Hospital providers are reporting concerning rates of suicide attempts in youth since the pandemic has started, especially in teenagers. Clinicians have found a higher number of pediatric patients expressing suicidal ideations and seen an increase in worsening mental health symptoms. With the abundance of idle time during the pandemic, many teens have found the time to act on these ideations and plans to create suicide attempts.

The Consequences Of A Pandemic on Teens

Social isolation’s toll on teens is more challenging because they haven’t developed full psychological resilience and coping skills like adults. Many studies have shown that teenagers get their sense of self-worth through their friendships, which serves as a way to handle stress and depression. These inadequacies present even more of a challenge for children with pre-existing mental health issues due to lack of routine, isolation, lack of resources, and missed life events.

Due to this lack of connection, teens have found themselves looking for alternative ways to manage and cope with these new and unexpected feelings.

Struggling academically. The physical absence of school has caused some to lose behavioral resources, athletic and club involvement, or other resources that help kids succeed academically. Virtual learning can be a struggle for some, causing a drop in grades or a lack of confidence in completing their coursework.

Addiction. The cycle of addiction often comes when a person has found a dependency on something that brings them a sense of pleasure. Since teens cannot interact with friends or go about their typical daily routine, they may latch on to new things that bring them a sense of pleasure. Addiction in the younger population can consist of internet addiction, smartphone addiction, social media addiction, or drug use.

Mental health challenges. COVID-19 has caused teens to experience social isolation, grief, and missing out on significant life events like birthdays, prom, and other activities. Teens are expressing how this has caused them to experience depression, general anxiety, and other mood changes.

Ways To Help Keep Your Teen On Track To Recovery

To help your teen stay on track, know the signs of when there may be a shift happening in their world. Their internal conflicts can start to externalize in their day-to-day actions and signify that they aren’t doing well. This can look like but is not excluded to:

  • Changes in mood such as rage, irritability, conflict with family, or any unusual behaviors
  • Change in academic performance
  • Reckless behaviors such as drug use or acting out
  • Mention of suicidal thoughts or self-harm 
  • Oversleeping or under-sleeping
  • Aggressive or stubborn behavior

Paying attention to noticeable signs of changes within your child is vital for receiving the proper help in time.

Contact Their Pediatrician

Stay in touch with your pediatrician or mental health professionals. Your child’s pediatrician should be a close line of contact regarding reaching out for help and recommendations. If you have any concerns about your child’s health or unusual behaviors, reach out to their pediatrician so they can screen for mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, and other issues. Allow your child the opportunity to speak one-on-one with their doctor so that they can vocalize in their own words what they are feeling. From there, they can also make any referrals to a facility or mental health professionals that offer specialized services for your child.

Keep Up with Medication

If your child has already been prescribed medicine that they routinely take, make sure they don’t get out of the habit of taking it. Medication is a crucial part of recovery for some individuals and helps relieve symptoms of their illness that the stress of the pandemic may otherwise exacerbate. It is easy for one missed dose to evolve into missing multiple doses, eventually forgetting to take any at all.

Offer Support.

Many teenagers aren’t entirely sure how they should express their feelings or don’t always feel comfortable doing so. Instead of bottling their emotions up inside, create a space for them to be comfortable to share how they feel. Dealing with loneliness, grief, and mood changes is difficult for anyone to experience, especially for adolescents who are still new to these feelings. Offer them alternative ways to stay in touch with their friends through phone calls or other COVID-friendly options.

The pandemic has taken a mental toll on everyone and has not discriminated against teens. As a parent, helping your child stay on the right track during recovery should not be a task you have to face alone. At Clearfork Academy, we are dedicated to helping your son fully recover and heal from any drug use or mental health challenges they are experiencing in life. We also believe that an integral part of an adolescent’s everyday life is their academics, which can be negatively impacted during drug use along with co-occurring illnesses and the disruption of an unexpected pandemic. During the treatment process, we partner with UTCS through a program that allows our patients to stay academically focused as they graduate from our program. Life throws many unexpected curveballs our way. Needing help to get through life stressors does not mean you are weak. Call Clearfork Academy at (888) 966-8604 to find out more about our treatment programs today. 

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The Mental Health Effects of Covid-19 on Teens

No one could have prepared for the sudden COVID crisis of 2020, and that includes our kids. It’s been undeniably hard on everyone, and when one of our greatest coping mechanisms is the positive reinforcement we get from our friends, what is your teen supposed to do when they’re cooped up at home?

How is the pandemic affecting them?
What are some signs that parents need to be on the lookout for?


Depression is More Prevalent

Sadly, depression has seen a big rise since the start of the pandemic. Teens are even more susceptible to its effects because of their natural hormone imbalances and brain development. They don’t yet have all of the coping skills that adults have crafted over a lifetime.

It can be more than just the blues; severe depression is something to be concerned about. Changes in your child’s behavior or mood could be indicators that they are struggling emotionally and are in need of help.


Signs of Depression

Teens can be moody, even in the best of circumstances, so keep your child’s unique personality and patterns in mind as you go through the possible signs of depression:
        • Irritability
        • Mood swings
        • Withdrawal and isolation
        • Excessive sleeping or napping
        • Loss of appetite
These are symptoms that will typically last for an extended period of time. You should monitor how long you notice certain behaviors. Has it been one or two days? A week or longer? The more severe signs of depression require urgent attention:
If you’ve seen these behaviors in your teen, please seek professional help right away.

 

What You Can Do to Help

If you see any of these behaviors that give cause for concern, don’t be afraid to ask your child about it. Having open lines of communication can be an extreme comfort for you and for them. Urging them to speak to a trusted friend or adult can also foster healthy ways for them to express their emotions in a safe space.

Remember to also lead by example. Talking about your own feelings can prompt input from your teen. Keep a positive outlook even when dealing with your own stress. Take care of yourself, each other, and encourage time spent together as a family.

Don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Calling your pediatrician, counselor, or a treatment facility like Clearfork to get an assessment of your child’s mental state can make a big difference. It’s never too soon to ask questions, but there could come a time where it is too late. 

Take your child’s mental health seriously, and above all, just be there for them. Let them know that you care. 


If your child is struggling with substance abuse or mental health, we’re here to help. Our clinical admissions specialists are available 24/7 to help with your unique situation. Please call us at 888-966-8604, email us at [email protected], or visit our website at
www.ClearforkAcademy.com!

 

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