One of the first reports looking into the effects that the pandemic has had on teens shows that they’re feeling scared and isolated.
The pandemic feels as if it’s been going on for years, even if it’s only been around for a few months. While there are no studies or statistics looking into the imprint of the virus and the isolation we’ve experienced, there’s evidence of stress everywhere, from the thousands of parents whose kids are driving them crazy, to the vast amount of stress baking that’s apparent on our social media feeds.
One demographic that hasn’t been all that discussed is teenagers. These young adults have been forced to miss out on important stepping stones, the kind of social experiences that we remember for years to come, such as the end of the school year, graduation and prom.
A recent survey commissioned by the National 4‑H Council shows that the coronavirus had already affected many teens in the early stages of the pandemic, highlighting their struggles with mental health, such as anxiety, depression and fear of the future.
The survey, conducted by Harris Poll, compiled answers from 1,500 teenagers between the ages of 13 and 19. Results show that 7 out of 10 of them said that the pandemic had caused them to struggle with their mental health in one way or another; 64% of respondents believed that the experience of COVID-19 would have a significant impact on their futures.
Other results show that factors like schoolwork and the urge to repress their feelings are causing teens significant amounts of stress. In order to cope with these feelings, many teens are pretending that they’re okay by isolating themselves, not discussing their feelings or spending most of their waking hours online in order to stay connected and informed.
These are stressful times for any person, whether they’re kids, teens or adults. Steven Meyers, CEO of National 4H Council, explained to the Huffington Post that these results shouldn’t cause a panic since they’re not diagnostics provided by mental health professionals; they’re simply a snapshot of what teens were going through during the early period of the virus in the U.S..
During these troubling times it’s important for everyone to be open about their emotions, voicing them with people they trust and trying to cope with them in the best way they can. It’s important for parents to be available to their kids, asking them how they’re feeling when necessary. It’s also important to spend time together in person, no matter how busy and stressful life gets. Says Meyers, “These interactions are important for reinforcing connection, creating routine, and providing in-person interaction that may not otherwise occur.”