The COVID-19 pandemic gave birth to a new psychological order – uncertainty. About the health risk, increasing financial instability and social isolation that contributed to widespread emotional distress and an increased risk of psychiatric disorders, mainly among teenagers, who lost out on the crucial two years of their formative growth. As numerous studies have showcased, the teens are susceptible to longer term consequences of mental health disorders.
The reason is that they are in a critical period of their development, and require special care to preserve and promote their mental health. The pandemic has drastically modified their routines – from studies, interactions to physical activities and entertainment. School classes shifted to an online mode, with the suppression of all or most activity lessons. Physical exercise has been either reduced or cancelled. While helping out at home builds a child’s routine and personality, the harsh isolation, significant rise of contact between parents and children, drastically increased friction amidst the family.
Moreover, not all homes are safe places. Children, especially teenagers faced a variety of abuses – from mental to physical. Many faced emotional abuse by a parent or other adult at home, including swearing, insulting or putting down of the child harshly. Some experienced physical abuse such as hitting, beating and kicking.
According to Debra Houry of CDC Acting Principal Deputy Director, “The Covid-19 pandemic created traumatic stressors that have the potential to further erode students’ mental wellbeing. Our research shows that surrounding youth with the proper support can reverse these trends and help our youth now and in the future.”
Internet too played a huge role, with the lack of supervision during school hours and the exposure of the vulnerable youth to online offenders, attempted frauds and access to inappropriate content. As a result of these multiple issues, studies have shown that adolescents began to feel frustrated, and problems, such as worsening school performance, increased agitation, aggression and regression, became pronounced.
Another children-specific study found that teenagers have become more clinging, with enhanced issues of inattention, irritability and fear. The quarantine considerably increased the digital time for many reasons, such as school and hobby classes, entertainment and social interaction, giving rise to new problems. While entertainment media helped families cope with distress, boredom and lack of social interaction; social media helped the teens as they got first-hand information, forged social connection and helped in developing identity and self-expression. However, there in a huge flip side to overexposure of screen time. Fake news and misinformation affected the adolescents and caused undue increase in anxiety and disruption in sleep and circadian rhythms. Combined with isolation due to Covid-19 from parents and primary caregivers, mental health problems, such as insomnia and separation anxiety, rose exponentially.
Child Psychiatrist and psychotherapists agree on one thing – constant support and reassurance of stability and a normalisation of routine will help the teens regain their lost confidence.
We hope this article was informative. Leave a comment and let us know how we can help the teenagers deal with mental health issues.