Teens have had a lot to deal with this year, from challenges of remote or blended learning to COVID-19 restrictions that have likely put a damper on their social life. The uncertainty and adjustments in 2020 have caused added stress for people of all ages. Your teen might not say it (or might not realize it), but COVID can have a very real effect on their mental health.
Signs of Stress in Teens
Commons signs of stress in teens can include:
- Change in energy level
- Feelings of or appearance of being down, overwhelmed, stressed out
- Spending more time in their room, isolating themselves from others
How You Can Help Support Your Teen
A certain amount of moodiness in teens is normal due to hormonal changes in the body. But if your teen is more moody than usual, or if you’ve noticed any of the signs above, here are some things you can do to support your teen:
- Have an “open door” policy. Encourage your teen to talk with you or a trusted friend when they are feeling overwhelmed with life challenges.
- Have a “listening ear.” Provide active listening, refrain from judgment and be mentally present while your teen is sharing his or her concerns. Commend your teen on their willingness to come talk with you. Remind them that “storms don’t last always” and that things will improve.
- Remain positive while normalizing your teen’s feelings. Identify that many are struggling during this time, while highlighting that there is additional help for those who need it. Note: This is also a good opportunity for parents to share their own feelings related to mental health and COVID-19.
- Together with your teen, seek out professional help from your child’s primary care provider and mental health support community.
- Mental health providers, social workers and doctors routinely screen for depression, anxiety and issues related to coping with stress. Schedule an appointment with your teen’s provider and share your concerns. Remember to allow your teen time to communicate with the doctor in private. Often times teens may share different information with a professional.
- With the help of a professional, your teen can receive additional mental health intervention such as counseling and/or medication management.
About Depression and Suicide
Research shows that more than 95 percent of people who kill themselves have depression or another diagnosable mental or substance abuse disorder, often in combination with other mental disorders. It’s important to treat depression early to help prevent a mental health crisis. If a child has symptoms of depression, lasting almost every day for two weeks or more, they should be evaluated.
Watch closely for these signs and symptoms of depression in your teen, especially at times of high stress, including during our current pandemic, during major life changes, and around holidays.
Share your concerns with your child’s doctor. Schedule an appointment or seek emergency care if needed.
Remember that it’s OK to ask and reach out for help. For some kids, checking in every now and then with them and sharing feelings will help. Others might need more than that. If so, use the resources below to find help.
To get immediate help in a crisis:
- Call 911
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for English, 1-888-628-9454 for Spanish, or Lifeline Crisis Chat
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522
- National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4AChild (1-800-422-4453) or text 1-800-422-4453
To find a health care provider or treatment for substance use disorder and mental health:
- SAMHSA’s National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357) and TTY 1-800-487-4889
- Treatment Services Locator Website
Share with your teen: Teens: Is COVID Stressing You Out? Here’s Help. This blog post written just for teens provides helpful tips to get through this stressful time.