A Different Group of At-Risk Individuals During the Time of COVID

We have all heard numerous discussions of the at-risk populations. These are older populations or those with comorbid conditions. However, there is a different type of risk and a different at-risk population that isn’t talked about enough.

Teenagers have always faced mental health challenges, but the quarantines brought about because of COVID are exacerbating those challenges. According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness, 7 in 10 teens could face increased mental health challenges because of the pandemic, with a significant number of teens being at risk for an increased sense of loneliness and isolation.

Additionally, a 4-H Council survey found that 55 percent of teens say they’ve experienced anxiety, 45 percent experienced excessive stress, and 43 percent experienced depression. Furthermore, 82 percent of teens wish that it was discussed more in school, including discussions of possible coping mechanisms.

And while there is so much focus on slowing the spread of the infection, there is not nearly enough focus on protecting the mental health of our at-risk teen populations, which are currently being denied vital socialization time, while also being flooded with information that makes them feel anxious or depressed about the future.

Talking about mental health openly, as I try to do here, is an important start, yet more needs to be done. It is a massive challenge that demands a systematic approach involving schools, parents, social media campaigns, and so much more.

Hopefully, this post is a good first start, with much more work to follow.

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