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Adolescence, Mental Health, And The Pandemic

Although frequently under-addressed, adolescent mental health is always a vital subject. The pandemic has placed a strain on us all emotionally and psychologically, and those moving through their adolescent years aren’t unsusceptible to this strain. What do we know, based on research, about young people and mental health during the pandemic thus far? Perhaps even more notably, how can we support our adolescents with their mental health?

Current Adolescent Mental Health Statistics

Let’s start by going over what we know based on research and statistics on mental health and youth at this time. If an adolescent in your life is encountering mental health or related challenges, they aren’t alone. One study on youth between the ages of 11 and 17 found that the following have increased since the start of the pandemic:

  • Irritability
  • Problems with sleep
  • Feeling low
  • Feeling nervous
  • More exhaustion related to school and learning
  • Deteriorating friendships
  • Escalated arguments with parental figures

Physical concerns, like headaches and backaches, have also been more prevalent. According to UNICEF, many youths do not ask for mental health help when they need it, and since the pandemic, more young people are also experiencing matters like difficulty with motivation related both to chores and typically enjoyable activities. UNICEF also notes that the number of calls made to childline Kenya has risen by more than twice the number of calls received by the hotline prior to the pandemic.

How Can We Promote Adolescent Mental Health?

There are ways to support adolescents with mental health, both in and outside of the home, and there are benefits to doing so. Here are three tips to go about it:

  • Validate your adolescents’ feelings. Statements like, “that sounds challenging,” “thank you for telling me how you feel,” and questions that show respect for and adolescents autonomy, like, “do you want advice and guidance or a listening ear?” can all be accommodating.
  • Encourage talking about feelings or emotional expression. Research shows that repressing emotions hurts, both mentally and physically, leading to a higher risk of magnified blood pressure, aggression, depression symptoms, and more.
  • Make help available. Teen counseling can be very helpful for concerns like depression, anxiety, and even stress. Mental health support can even improve academic performance.
  • Take care of your own mental health. Asking for mental health support can model a positive practice for those around you, like kids and teens, in addition to serving as a crucial form of self-care.

It’s often also meaningful to challenge the stigma surrounding mental health and mental health disorders. Start conversations about mental health, what it means, and why it is important with kids and teens. Youth of all ages can benefit from knowing that we all have mental health to care for and that it’s okay to speak up or reach out. If you want to learn more about adolescence and mental health, free resources like the articles on the BetterHelp website may be a place to start. However, if your teen is in need of individualized care, it is important to reach out to a medical or mental health professional. Regardless of if you’re a parental figure, an adolescent, or someone who does not fit into either of those groups, we all need support at times. Professional care can be a game-changer for those of varying ages, and it can support people through a broad selection of life challenges.

Marie Miguel Biography

Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.

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