The pandemic is taking a toll on teens’ mental health
The coronavirus has been tough on everyone. But the social lives of teenagers have taken two steps back, which has put a strain on their mental health. But, even in dark times, they are finding support.
For Damini Parkhi it’s been a sad and lonely year. “Just with being in quarantine a lot, it makes me feel alone,” Parkhi said.
Coronavirus concerns have kept this 17-year-old high school junior at home, away from her friends and teachers.
“My mom still went to work so I was alone in the house, and I was all by myself,” Parkhi said. “Nothing to do, no one to see. Once in a while, I’d see a neighbor outside – that was my only social life.”
She found herself needing help and she ended up in the hospital. She isn’t alone in her suffering.
Pediatric Emergency Medicine Physician Dr. Jennifer Walls works at Golisano’s Children’s Hospital.
“Drug overdoses, suicide attempts. Kids as young as five, six, seven-years-old that are really struggling with the emotional impact of COVID-19,” said Dr. Walls.
Often, kids are afraid to burden their parents with their mental health struggles, Dr. Walls says.
“It is very hard to see such young lives with so much promise. To see a young person who feels that they don’t have hope. Wanting to reach every young person and let them know that there are so many people who care and want to reach out. That’s why it’s so hard,” she said.
Now, Parkhi is reaching out to others and sharing what she’s learned.
“Journaling really helped me. And painting I found was one of my ways to express my feelings and emotions. The colors, if it was a good day, I’d paint happy colors. If it was a bad day, I’d paint more of a greyscale,” Parkhi said.
“I like that I can help my friends through some of their battles,” she said. Not only that, but she wants to help them through the pandemic as well.
Warning signs to look out for in your child:
Isolation or refusal to attend school;
Changes in eating habits;
Withdrawal from peers or social activities;
Withdrawal from extracurricular activities at school or in the community; and/or
Reports of bullying, harassment, or intimidation in school, the community, or on social media.
SalusCare has a weekly zoom support group for parents. It’s free and you do not need to be a client. It’s Monday nights at 7. Zoom ID: 975 9545 3712 Password: 488302
SalusCare Emergency Services: 239-275-4242
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 800-273-8255
Disaster Distress Helpline: www.samhsa.gov/find-help/disaster-distress-helpline
Parent/Caregiver Guide for Helping Families Cope with COVID-19: www.nctsn.org/sites/default/files/resources/fact-sheet/outbreak_factsheet_1.pdf
Smart Social: Monitor your kids online https://smartsocial.com/parental-control-software/
National Association of School Psychologist: School safety and crisis (PDF)
David Lawrence Center website for children
If you or a loved one are struggling, you can find support by visiting resources on the NAMI website.
For a comprehensive list of resources and organizations, you can visit This is My Brave.
For additional tools, including a treatment locator, you can visit the CDC’s mental health web page.
FGCU Community Counseling Center
National Alliance on Mental Illness, Collier County
National Alliance on Mental Illness, Lee, Charlotte, Hendry counties
Lee Health – Behavioral Health
Lee Health Foundation’s – ‘Kids Minds Matter’
The National Alliance for Caregiving offers a free handbook
Circle of Care: A Guidebook for Mental Health Caregivers
Collier County Mental Health Court
Lee County Mental Health Court
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Local Support Groups: Anxiety and Depression Association of America
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (Mental Health and Addiction Insurance Help)
Southwest Florida Resource Link
Stop Now And Plan (SNAP)
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: Talking to kids about suicide