Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic at the beginning of March, students have been finding unique ways to keep themselves busy and safe in their surrounding environment. However, with the rising cases in the state, teens have been struggling with adjustments such as social distancing, wearing masks in public, and seeing very few friends during their summer vacation. As a result, depression rates in teenagers have skyrocketed in the last two months and not just in the state, but the entire country.
Findings from a recent survey were discussed in an article (Pearson, 2020) on Huffpost. The survey conducted by the National 4-H Council polled over 1,500 teens ages 13-19 that came from diverse backgrounds about mental health issues amid the coronavirus pandemic. The findings revealed that during the pandemic, 7 out of 10 teens have struggled with mental health. A staggering 55% of teens said that they have experienced anxiety while 45% claim to have excessive stress. The survey data disclosed that depression in teens during the pandemic is all too real with 43% reporting that they have experienced it during COVID-19.
Due to fears of transmission and the precautions needed for going outdoors, many teens have either limited outdoor time or are not allowed to leave home as a preventative measure for spreading the virus. Rising high school senior Natalia Diaz stated that she most certainly noticed a change in her level of happiness since the start of quarantine.
“I’ve noticed that I’ve been more stressed and unhappy lately. To keep myself occupied, I would hang out with family, watch movies, and listen to music. But I miss being able to be around a lot of my friends,” she said.
When asked what is her advice for those who might be struggling with mental health issues at home, her response was uplifting and filled with concern, “Do not feel like you’re alone because even when you are alone, you’re not really alone. You always have people around and it helps to keep yourself occupied with something so you don’t feel bad.”
Responding to the same question, is rising college freshman, Ryan McHugh. The coronavirus has affected the high school graduating class of 2020 by depriving them of a lot of time with friends and acquaintances they may not be able to see again.
“We are living in strange and scary times but eventually everything will be okay. Also, you are not alone and the best thing to do to help cope is to talk about how you’re feeling, whether it be with your parents or trusted adults or even siblings and friends because they might be going through the same things you are,” advised McHugh.
In the recent survey by the National 4-H Council, 61% of teens say that the coronavirus pandemic has increased their feelings of loneliness.
Although those with pre-existing conditions and the elderly are more susceptible to contracting the virus, teens are experiencing dramatically high levels of depression and anxiety due to the changes in their daily lives and worries of the impact this virus will have in their future. With the caseload climbing, it is for certain that these safety precautions must be taken seriously in order to keep everyone safe.
Teens are all too aware of mental health issues and wish that Americans would talk more openly and honestly about mental health issues. They also wish there was a better venue in which they could discuss their own mental health with others. A venue that was nonjudgemental and more inclusive.
If you are experiencing depression reach out to a family member, friend, a trusted adult, or a medical provider. If you are having suicidal thoughts, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Additional resources are listed below for teens and parents.
On behalf of the North Gwinnett Voice, we hope everyone stays safe and healthy both mentally and physically as we battle this pandemic together.
Pearson, Catherine. (2020, June 17). The First Date on COVID-19 and Teen’s Mental Health is Here — And It’s Not Good. Huffpost. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/the-first-data-on-covid-19-and-teens-mental-health-is-here-and-its-not-good_l_5ee96d22c5b650b4255d3fe4
4-H National Council. (2020, June) 4-H Youth Mental Health Survey. 4-H. https://4-h.org/about/research/#!healthy-living