Depression and anxiety are two of the most commonly diagnosed mental disorders in teens. In fact, 4.4 million teens aged 17 and under have anxiety while 1.9 million have been diagnosed with depression.
Because of COVID-19, parents are seeing a heightened risk for mental disorders in their teen children. What can parents do to help their kids during this time? Find out with our guide on teens and COVID.
Teens and COVID: Why Teens Are Experiencing Depression and Anxiety
Many teenagers will experience a mental conditions like depression or anxiety even without a global pandemic going on.
COVID-19 forced teens to leave their normal social, educational, and physical life. This has caused even more teens to feel depressed or anxious during their daily lives.
Major signs of depression or anxiety in teens during the pandemic include:
- Changes in sleep pattern
- Changes in eating pattern
- Dropping grades
- Withdrawal from family
- Aggressive behavior
- Substance use
Parents have a huge role in improving their teen’s mental health. Here’s how you can help them:
Create a New Normal
For teens that have still not returned to school and have less interaction time with their friends, it’s necessary to create a new normal. Teens and COVID don’t mix, but you can help them feel better about their new lifestyle.
Don’t Get Off Schedule
On a normal school day, teens stick to a tight schedule. To make the new way of life as normal as possible, it is important to make your own schedule.
The new schedule should work with online school meetings. Make sure your teen wakes up at the same time each day. You can let them sleep in later than usual if their class meetings allow it.
Don’t have them wake up and get straight to their studies. Help them feel ready for the day by exercising, having breakfast, etc. Getting some vitamin D from outside is a great way to alleviate anxiety and wake up in the mornings.
The same rules that their school uses should apply at home. This means no cell phone or television use. However, you can allow for more mini-breaks to avoid your teen staring at a computer screen all day.
Don’t forget to add in a regular lunch break. Schools generally allow students a 30-minute lunch, but an hour lunch may be more suitable for virtual learning.
Eat Dinner Together
Dinnertime should be the time the whole household gets together to have a meal. This is a great way to end the “school day.”
When the family comes together, everyone can share how their day went. It’s great to use conversation starters that have a positive outlook on the day.
Before and after dinner is the best time for your teen to have leisure time if they have finished their homework. Relaxation is just as important for teen health as it is for adult health.
Give Them Space
During downtime, give your teens space if they want it. Needing privacy from the family is a normal part of teen mental health.
During their downtime, encourage your teen to virtually hang out with their friends who they would usually see on a normal school day.
Communication Is Key
Teens are often quiet about their mental health around their parents. They might not even understand the emotions they are going through. These tips can help you create open and honest communication with your teen:
Share Information About COVID-19
You should be honest with your teen about COVID-19 and COVID recovery. You can watch the news together or share articles about current updates.
If they have concerns about the virus be sure to be factual. Right now, it may be easier to ease your teen’s concerns as vaccinations are successfully rolling out to millions of people.
Reinforce how the basics can help them stay healthy. The basics are washing your hands frequently and wearing a mask in public.
Talk It Out
One of the best tips we can give to help your teen bounce back from COVID is to simply talk it out. Ask them how they are feeling about the pandemic and their day-to-day lives.
It may be hard to get your teen to open up at first, so create a safe environment for them. If they are hesitant to open up, keep an eye on their behavior to see if they need more support.
Focus on Mind and Body Health
As you are focusing on your teen’s mental health, you can’t forget about their body health too. The body and mind together have a significant impact on mental health as a whole.
If your child is still learning virtually, they are likely not getting as much exercise as they need. They’ll spend most of their time glued to a computer screen trying to maintain their schooling.
The different ways you can help your teen keep their body and mind healthy are:
- Going for a walk or run
- Visiting the library
- Researching new skills or hobbies
- Find online video workouts
- Watch movies or television as a family
- Creating a journal to write about the day
To improve physical and mental health, make sure your teen gets enough sleep as well.
Help Improve Your Teen’s Mental Health
Teens and COVID are like oil and water, they don’t mix. Many parents have noticed behavior changes in their teens due to the pandemic.
Knowing the signs and symptoms of anxiety and depression can help you spot when your teen has a problem. Through early detection, treatment outcomes tend to be better.
In severe cases of anxiety and depression, your teen may have suicidal thoughts. If you notice your teen struggling with their mental health and none of the above steps are helping, get them professional mental health treatment.
Contact our mental health center today to learn how we can help your teen through COVID-19 struggles.