The pandemic has taken a toll on the mental health of many people, with teens being especially affected.
“Kids are flexible in general, but this has gone on for so long and it’s getting very tiring,” said Dr. Vanessa Jensen, a pediatric psychologist with Cleveland Clinic. “And you know, teens are very much in the moment. They’re not used to things waiting, except for things like proms and graduation.”
Jensen says the change in lifestyle has left some teens feeling anxious and depressed. So how can parents tell if their child is struggling right now? There are red flags, including a big drop in grades or isolating themselves and not talking with friends. Eating and sleeping habits might change, too. They may also get headaches and make vague complaints about not feeling well.
How can parents help their teens cope? One idea is to invite them to spread kindness.
“If your teen is willing, say ‘Hey why don’t you give Mrs. So and So a call or let’s bake some brownies for Mr. So and So down the street and leave them on the doorstep,” Jensen said. “Just the sense of doing something for somebody else can help get our brains off of how we feel and give us a sense of doing something purposeful.”
Jensen also says parents shouldn’t be overly hard on themselves. She says many people are still having a hard time and it’s okay to let your teen know that. If you or your teen are feeling completely overwhelmed, you can always reach out to a medical professional for advice.”