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Teen Mental Health in the COVID Pandemic

Everyone has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in unique ways, but I have a soft spot for how teenagers have been affected. They are biologically wired to spend these years being part of a pack. They crave social interaction with others and being engaged in stimulating learning. In 24 hours, this was taken away from teenagers with no promises of a return to normalcy. For over a year, they’ve been told to do the one thing that is most painful for most teenagers--to isolate. We have heard teenagers recount the painful period of isolation citing how they cannot even hug a friend.

Though the data and research on teen mental health during the pandemic is still evolving, the anecdotal evidence from providers, parents, and teachers is clear: teens struggled with anxiety, depression, and isolation in 2020; much like their adult counterparts. We have also seen an increase in risk taking behavior because kids feel their social time is limited and are desperate to have that connection.

And now, after a year of strict parameters, we’re entering another period of transition as teens return to full time, in-person school in Bend. At a minimum, this is confusing for kids. Some may be still adjusting to online school or only recently found their groove with a limited social circle. It’s been hammered into them to stop complaining about the effects of COVID on their social and school plans. But now we’re turning things on teens again with more changes and unknowns. We should expect teens to feel confused, and we need to support them during this time.

As a parent, it can be difficult to understand what a teen needs and what they are going through. Even though we all experienced a pandemic, it may have affected your child in a different way than you. Their experience is unique, and it may be beneficial to start a therapeutic relationship to work through these feelings. Teens need a safe place to talk, feel heard, and be understood. This is the power of therapy!

Though your teenager may be reluctant to start seeing a therapist, parents can hand over this hurdle to the practitioner. It is our job to build rapport and gain trust with your teenager. Dristhi Bend has therapists who work specifically with children and teens, including Daniel Gaxiola, Kari Halvorson, and Alison Pleiman.

If you think seeing a therapist would be beneficial for your teenager as we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, please contact our office to learn more and set up an appointment. We are here to help you every step of the way!

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