April 22, 2020
By: Julie Hughes, RPC
And what parents can do about it
Teens are one of the vulnerable populations being hit by the mental health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic currently impacting our society. Their ability to cope with these changing times is not just about the hardships of being an adolescent. It’s actually about their brain chemistry being wired differently than ours.
In “The Reality of Covid-19 Is Hitting Teens Especially Hard,” Christopher Null writes, “I was suddenly facing the reality that not only were teens ill-equipped for this crisis, they’re actually in a much worse position than adults. There’s science behind this idea, as Psychology Today writer Christine L. Carter notes: ‘Teenagers and college students have amplified innate, developmental motivations that make them hard to isolate at home. The hormonal changes that come with puberty conspire with adolescent social dynamics to make them highly attuned to social status and peer group.'”
Parents also play a role in their teens’ mental health. Although we can’t fix or rescue them from the sadness, anger or frustration many of them are feeling, we can act as role models for how to handle stress and demonstrate resiliency and healthy coping mechanisms.
If we are always watching the news or feeling very anxious about what’s going on, our teens will pick up on that and feel the anxiety too.
The most important thing we can do is be a support to them. Hear them out when they’re ready to share their feelings, validate their experience, and offer them a safe place for connection.
How have you found ways to help your teen cope during these challenging times? Or what questions might you have for one of our therapists on how to help your teen?