The pandemic continues to affect all of us in one way or another. As I work with various individuals of all ages, I have seen the effects first-hand. Throughout the adult population I work with, I see a lot of stress, fatigue and frustration. Still, I do find that most adults have some coping skills/mechanisms.
However, the adolescents I work with seem to really be struggling to handle the pandemic and everything else that goes on in life. I noticed the adolescents I worked with have decreasingly effective coping skills/mechanisms over the years, and I feel that the current world around us shed a bright light on that.
Why that is, I’m not too sure exactly, and I hope that study will take place on that topic. I believe that currently, there are many more factors adolescents are exposed to (compared to even 20 years ago) impacting their resilience and having the necessary coping skills. I believe social media and the pandemic are the most prevalent players at the moment, but I’m sure there are many other contributing factors.
A lot of times, they feel emotionally alone. I have given them a safe space and a chance to be heard. It is incredible to see the weight lifted off their shoulders once they just let it out.
I’ve helped teach them coping skills and strategies.
I was able to help lift them from their dark place. They were able to see their self-worth and feel positive again. As I was writing this, I thought I should have some stats so that you can see how adolescents were affected even before the pandemic.
Please keep in mind that we all go through things no matter what age and many of us may lack the ability to cope. Sometimes as adults, we tend to forget about that. We tend to criticize and give judgment, though usually, we intend to be helpful.
You would be surprised how much you can do for someone you care about just by being supportive, understanding, and letting someone just be heard.
Here are some titbits of stats regarding mental health and adolescents:
A survey found that 97% of teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17 have at least one account of snap chat, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube.
According to the National Center for Health Research, the rate of adolescents reporting symptoms of major depression in a given year increased by 52% from 2005 to 2017 alone. Experiencing psychological distress in a given month grew 71% in young adults from 2008 to 2017.
Even worse, the rate of suicidal thoughts in young adults increased 47% during that same time.
Between 2012 and 2015, depression in boys increased by 21% and in girls by 50%. A 2017 study of 8th to 12th graders found that high levels of depressive symptoms increased by 33% between 2010 and 2015. The suicide rate for girls in this age group grew by 65%.
Child suicide rates increased by up to 150%, and self-harm by girls ages 10 to 14 nearly tripled. These patterns point to social media. Spending more than 3 hours on social media per day puts adolescents at a higher risk for mental health problems. 13% of kids ages 12-17 report depression, and 32% report anxiety.
In my view, and as research shows, this was a problem before the pandemic showed its ugly face. In my opinion, the lockdowns have exacerbated this.
Again, these are not all contributing factors. Every person has their influences, exposures, and experiences that impact how they think and feel.
I am hopeful that things will get better for us all, and I will be here to contribute to that outcome.
I hope this helps
— Jen Lee