COVID and Teens’ Mental Health

By Grace Mersch

February 17, 2021

Of those affected by the pandemic, no one has it quite like teenagers. Between scrolling through Tiktok, sitting in front of a computer and sleeping (the only things to do these days), teens are missing out on one of the most influential times in their lives, and their mental health is paying the price as a result.

The impact has been so severe that mental health-related emergency department visits for children between the ages of 12 and 17 have increased 31 percent since April compared to 2019, according to a report by the CDC.

This is because the pandemic has caused many people to feel out of control with their lives. For teens especially, this feeling can be so strong that it can lead to a lack of motivation, causing missing schoolwork, sleep, disordered eating patterns or social isolation. 

And online schooling only exacerbates these problems. Every student has a different home life, and some may not have an environment that is suitable for online learning. For some, the responsibility of keeping track of every assignment and managing life at home can prove to be exhausting. 

Senior Marnei Gray is one of these students. She feels online school has negatively impacted her mental health because the routine of working at home for seven hours a day is “tiresome and strenuous”.

So what can be done to help? Social worker Amanda Buop emphasizes the importance of diet, sleeping, exercise, and taking care of one’s body. 

Buop says, “Your age group is exercising your independence and finding out who you are and the pandemic’s definitely stifling you.”

Buop says doing things that are within one’s own control — practicing good hygiene, refraining from drugs and alcohol, getting enough sleep and communicating with loved ones from a distance when possible — can make all the difference.

What is just as important as caring for one’s own mental health is checking up on friends and family. Emotional connection doesn’t always have to be within six feet — sometimes FaceTime or even a quick Zoom call can be enough. Just remember: while it’s not the same, it’s important to keep each other safe during this time.

If the stresses of the pandemic and online school become too much, counseling at Norwood High School is always available. Meetings with Buop are available to be scheduled in person or on Google Meet through a guidance appointment request. The Norwood High School Hope Squad is also available.

In some final words of encouragement from Buop, “You needing help and knowing it is a strength, not a weakness.”