Stress, fear and uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic can wear anyone down, but teens may have an especially tough time coping emotionally right now. Feeling depressed, hopeless, anxious, or angry during the COVID-19 pandemic may be signs that an adolescent need more support during this difficult time.
The American Academy of Pediatrics offers parent tips that begin with staying in touch with the pediatrician.
“It's normal for teens to feel sad during this time, crying sometimes because they miss their friends or because sports and musical productions were cancelled,” said AAP President Sara Goza, MD, FAAP.. “We urge parents who are concerned to call the pediatrician and ask for help checking on the teen's social and emotional health. This may be something that can begin with a telehealth visit, and your pediatrician is in the best position to know that.”
Pediatricians can screen for depression and ask teens and family members about other concerns like anxiety or trouble coping with stress.
For parents, the AAP recommends:
Signs that a teen may need more support are:
While not everyone who talks about suicide will act on their words, any talk about suicide should be taken seriously. If you are worried, it is critical to make your home safe by removing weapons and ammunition from the house and securing medications in a locked cabinet.
Seek help immediately by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK or texting the Crisis Text Line by texting 'TALK' to 741741. Reserve 911 for situations where self-harming actions are happening or are about to happen. In a non-crisis situation, talk with your pediatrician about any concerns you have about your teen's mental health.
The AAP website for parents, HealthyChildren.org, offers more information on teen mental health during COVID-19 in the article, “Teens & COVID-19: Challenges and Opportunities During the Outbreak,”, which is a good link to include as a resource in a news article. A video is also available.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 67,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults.