Teens Dealing with the Emotional Toll of COVID
How is your teen coping during COVID-19?
Check in with your teen often to discuss how they’re feeling and managing, and watch for signs of mental health struggles. Keep in mind that these signs are not the same for everyone; different people show different signs when trying to deal with mental health challenges.
It’s normal for teens to feel sad during this time, crying sometimes because they miss their friends or because sports and musical productions were cancelled. However, your teen likely could benefit from extra support if they have:
- changes in mood that are not usual for your child, such as ongoing irritability, feelings of hopelessness or rage, and frequent conflicts with friends and family.
- changes in behavior, such as stepping back from personal relationships. If your ordinarily outgoing teen shows little interest in texting or video chatting with their friends while stuck at home, for example, this might be cause for concern.
- a lack of interest in activities previously enjoyed. Did your music-loving child suddenly stop wanting to practice guitar, for example? Did your aspiring chef lose all interest in cooking and baking?
- a hard time falling or staying asleep, or starting to sleep all the time.
- changes in weight or eating patterns, such as never being hungry or eating all the time.
- problems with memory, thinking, or concentration.
- changes in appearance, such as lack of basic personal hygiene (within reason, since many are doing slightly less grooming during this time at home.)
- an increase in risky or reckless behaviors, such as using drugs or alcohol.
- thoughts about death or suicide, or talking about it (see “A word about suicide risk in teens” ).
Parents set the tone in the household. Expressing extreme doom or fear can affect teens. Try to stay positive and relay consistent messages that a brighter future lies ahead. Keep lines of communication open between you and your teen, and don’t hesitate to talk with your pediatrician about ways to help maintain your family’s mental health during this difficult time.