Survey reveals that the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected the mental health of U.S. teenagers

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p >Survey reveals that the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected the mental health of U.S. teenagers

For teenagers, restrictions on the COVID-19 pandemic may be This means several months of online classes, reducing the time spent with friends, and canceling sports, band concerts, and dance parties.

A new national survey in the United States shows that for young people who rely heavily on the emotional support of social connections, these adjustments may have caused heavy mental health damage.

According to the National Children’s Health Opinion Survey of CS Mott Children’s Hospital of Michigan Medicine, 46% of parents said that since the beginning of the epidemic in March 2020, their teenagers have experienced new or worsening mental health Signs of the situation. Compared with parents of teenage boys, parents of teenage girls are more likely to say that their children have onset or worsening of new depressive symptoms and anxiety symptoms.

“Just as young people are biologically at the age of seeking independence from their families, COVID-19 preventive measures keep them at home,” said Gary L. Freed, MD, co-director of the poll and Mott pediatrician .

“The lifestyle changes related to the pandemic have caused serious damage to the lives of young people, and many people’s normal life patterns have been disrupted. Our investigation shows that changes during the pandemic may affect the lives of young people. The mental health of some teenagers has had a major impact.”

This nationally representative report is based on the responses of 977 parents of teenagers aged 13-18.

Polling shows that one-third of girls and one-fifth of boys have experienced new or worsening anxiety. More parents of teenage girls noticed an increase in anxiety/worries (36% vs. 19%) or depression/sadness (31% vs. 18%) than parents of teenage boys.

However, a similar proportion of parents report negative changes in adolescent sleep (24% for girls vs 21% for boys), withdrawal from the family (14% vs 13%) and aggressive behavior (8% vs 9%) ).

Freed pointed out that recent studies have shown that depression in adolescents during the pandemic is related to the fear and uncertainty of adolescents and the high levels of parental stress.

“Isolation during the pandemic may cause new problems for some teenagers, but for others, it exacerbates existing emotional health problems,” Freed said.

Parents surveyed said that their children seem to have been hit hardest by changes in social interactions over the past year, and three-quarters reported that this had a negative impact on teenagers’ connections with friends.

Many parents say that their children are sending text messages (64%), using social media (56%), online games (43%), and calling (35%) every or almost every day. Few parents say that their teenagers gather with friends in person every day or almost every day indoors (9%) or outdoors (6%).

“Peer groups and social interactions are an important part of adolescent development. But these opportunities are limited during the pandemic,” Freed said. “Many teenagers may feel frustrated, anxious and out of touch because of social distancing and lack of usual social channels, such as sports, extracurricular activities and hanging out with friends.”

Polling suggestion, noting teenagers’ psychology Parents with negative changes in their health can try different strategies to help young people, including relaxing COVID-19 rules and family rules on social media, seeking professional help, and even using mental health apps.

“Parents play a key role in helping young people cope with the pressure of the epidemic,” Freed said. “Regardless of whether teenagers are showing signs of problems, parents can participate in some strategies to help them. One of the most important things for parents to do is to keep communication channels open; ask their teenagers how to do it, and create honesty for them. Space to provide help when needed.”

The Mott survey further uncovered the methods parents use to improve children’s mental health, as well as the recommendations of survey experts.

Half of parents have tried to relax the family COVID-19 rules to allow teenagers to have more contact with friends, and most people (81%) said it was helpful. Freed said that families should encourage social interactions that follow COVID-19 safety guidelines, such as wearing a mask when outdoors or participating in activities, and maintaining social distancing.

Half of parents have also relaxed social media restrictions-most (70%) say it helps. Experts suggest that families allow young people to contact their peers on age-appropriate platforms, but continue to provide boundaries to ensure that screen time does not interfere with other health-related behaviors, such as physical activity and sleep. This may mean prohibiting the use of electronic products before going to bed, encouraging or only allowing the use of social media at designated times of the day.

One-quarter of parents seek help from a mental health service provider for their youth, and three-quarters of them find it helpful.

One-third of parents also talk to teachers or school counselors, and more than half (57%) of parents say this strategy is helpful.

“Teenagers may experience a variety of serious mental health problems, but if parents hear their teenage expressing any thoughts of suicide or self-harm, they should seek mental health assistance immediately,” Freed said.

  1. Try web-based programs

A quarter of parents encourage their teenagers to try web-based programs or applications to improve their mental health, 60% Parents say it helps. One-third of parents also look for information online in the survey (58% say it helps).

Freed pointed out that the application may make treatment more convenient, efficient and portable, but parents should consult their attending doctor or other trusted sources to obtain recommendations for the application and about the mental health of adolescents Online resources.

  1. Keep communication open, but also give space

In the survey, one in seven parents reported that their teenagers have been removed from the family since the beginning of the epidemic. drop out. Parents may try to show teenagers that they are not alone. By sharing some of their worries and successful strategies, they can help them cope, and at the same time ask some questions to create a safe space for frank dialogue.

At the same time, Freed pointed out that it is normal for teenagers to desire privacy from their families. Giving them some quiet time, creative time or music time is helpful to their mental health.

Child health experts emphasize the importance of sleep for teenagers, especially when they are under stress. In the Mott poll, nearly a quarter of parents said that their teenagers have experienced negative changes in sleep since the beginning of the epidemic.

Experts recommend helping young people create a healthy and productive daily work day and night, whether they are taking online classes or receiving face-to-face classes at school. This includes a regular sleep and wake-up cycle, adapted to their online learning schedule, other responsibilities at home, and their interactions with peers and family members. Taking time out for outdoor activities can also help regulate sleep.