COVID-19 and Teenagers: How to Navigate and How to Help

Despite the belief that teenagers have become entirely dependent on mobile devices, tablets, and other forms of technology, the challenges teenagers are facing during COVID-19 have brought to light the impacts of social distancing, confinement, and quarantine. Teenagers are in the phase of their lives when interacting with peers, and culminating friendships are more important than ever.

While some teenagers have been able to cope with the effects of COVID-19 by turning to siblings or parents, some teenagers have had to face the added challenge of not having a family to turn to during the crisis. 

How COVID-19 Can Affect the Mental Health of Teenagers

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), teens are one of the groups affected the most strongly by a stressful situation, like a pandemic. Technology can help reduce some effects of social distancing and isolation. But, it also creates an environment where teenagers are bombarded with news about COVID-19, case and death rates, and even conflicting stories about how the virus is spread.

Stay at home orders have made it difficult for teens to interact with their friends, and social distancing guidelines have made physical interaction with others nonexistent for some, particularly those that are not living at home with their families. This can lead to teenagers feeling isolated and an increase in poor habits like increased time on social media, increased screen time, and lack of physical activity. These frustrations for teenagers are very real and need to be acknowledged by the adults interacting with teenagers during this time.

For Teenagers Struggling During COVID-19

Reach out virtually as much as possible to friends, relatives, or family members, so you feel supported and connected. Talk to others about how you are feeling and what frustrations you might be experiencing. It may be starting to seem like things will never return to normal, but talking with as many friends and family members as possible can help you continue to experience feelings of normalcy and familiarity. 

Stay as active as possible. Spending as much time as possible outside while still maintaining social distancing is imperative for mental health. Try not to allow yourself to get caught in the routine of remaining locked indoors. Fresh air and physical activity are still as important as ever during COVID-19. Take a walk in a nearby park, or find a shady spot in your neighborhood to read under a tree. Self-care is crucial!

Use available resources if you feel you need help. Youth Focus is a nonprofit dedicated to providing support for youth and their families. We provide emergency housing, transitional housing, outpatient counseling, and multiple other services that can be very useful during this time. If you feel that you need these types of services, reach out right away.

How You Can Support Teenagers During COVID-19

Understanding the effects that COVID-19 is having on teenagers is a critical part of providing the support that they need to navigate during this time. Parents and other adults who interact with teenagers daily should try to empathize with the emotional challenges teens are facing, as well as struggling to understand COVID-19 and what their role is in preventing the disease from spreading.

Many of our area’s youth are not fortunate to have parents or families to turn to for support during this time, and that’s where we can help. Youth Focus has full-time staff who are working to help local youth with the struggles that COVID-19 has brought to the forefront. Consider getting involved with Youth Focus today. We all have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of local youth.