Being a teenager is not easy. But add in a global pandemic, and it can become even more of a challenge. According to recent data, teenagers have experienced a decline in their mental health since the outbreak of COVID-19. So, what exactly should parents be aware of and how can you help your teenager(s) get through this difficult time? The fact that we are even asking these questions is a good start.
How Are Teens Feeling?
Let’s face it. Most teens aren’t completely comfortable discussing their feelings. But a group of 17-year-olds opened quite a bit in the recent podcast, Teenager Therapy. They discussed feeling lonely without face-to-face contact with friends, and having much less motivation, the longer social distancing goes on. What is worse, talking about these struggles tends to be a challenge with lingering preconceptions that male emotions are a sign of weakness and females are quick to cry, showing vulnerability. But according to this group of teens, and more than likely your own, they are actually craving conversation.
What Parents Are (Mistakenly) Thinking
Many teens, particularly the ones featured in the podcast, find that it can be easy for parents to mistake depression for sadness, thinking it will just pass in a day or two. This misunderstanding leads parents to belittle symptoms and allow them to worsen into a crisis mode before teens get help.
Many parents also try to compare what their teens are experiencing to what they went through at their age, essentially invalidating their struggles in the process. Considering many parents dealt with immigration, wars, and other trying life experiences, you cannot really blame them for this. However, while it may be true, it does not help your children with what they’re experiencing now, and as a parent, it is important to realize that.
How Parents Can Do A Better Job Helping Their Teen With Mental Health Struggles
There is a good chance many parents can do a better job of reaching out and supporting their teens through their mental-health difficulties. Some tips, include:
● Do not wait for your kids to come to you. Proactively reach out to them
● Probe for more if your teen answers “how are you,” with a simple “okay” or “fine.”
● Listen with an unbiased mind as they describe their feelings.
● If you do not feel equipped to help adequately, suggest the idea of speaking with a therapist.
The pandemic has had an impact on everyone’s lives, so it is only natural if your teenager is feeling lost, upset, or frustrated. Reach out to them early and often, and you may be surprised to be met with an open mind and an eye-opening conversation.