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Recognizing Teen Mental Health Issues During Covid

teen with mental health issues

The novel coronavirus, COVID-19, that swept the world not only resulted in millions of deaths, lasting economic struggles and demanded an entire shift in the way of life, but also left many people, of all ages, to deal with the emotional repercussions of social isolation as well as all tangential emotions that accompanied the surge of the pandemic. The fact that when COVID-19 emerged, the information surrounding how to best protect against contracting the disease was contradictory, paired with the quickly evolving and continuously changing safety recommendations provided to the public left many people with intense feelings of fear, frustration, and palpable anxiety. 

Teenage Mental Health

Teenage years are fraught with high emotions, surging hormones, and a newfound need for autonomy. Existing as a teenager during the time of coronavirus does not eliminate the typical adolescent challenges. It is important to note that many dormant mental health illnesses begin to surface during one’s teenage years, into early adulthood. Commonly reported examples of signs and symptoms that a teen struggling with mental health issues may exhibit include but are not limited to any combination of the following, as provided by Penn Medicine

  • Irritability
  • Muscle tension
  • Sleep difficulty
  • Restlessness
  • Changes in appetite
  • Suicidal ideations
  • Poor hygiene practices
  • Lacks motivation
  • Concentration difficulty
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Weight fluctuation

Exposure to natural or man-made disasters can result in a teenager developing a trauma disorder, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Living through the coronavirus pandemic could be considered an experience that may trigger the development of PTSD. As a parent, especially during this time of global unrest, it is imperative to be extra vigilant regarding your teenager’s behaviors and overall mental health. Bear in mind that teenagers during the time of COVID-19 are faced with having to navigate the traditional adolescent challenges while simultaneously experiencing the unchartered territory associated with living through a global pandemic.

What To Do

Every situation is different. Each person has likely been directly or indirectly affected by COVID-19, and will process and integrate the experience uniquely. This pandemic has caused an incredible disruption to nearly every facet of the global society. Surviving and learning to thrive while also remaining safe and socially responsible has forced new societal norms upon the world. It is imperative to provide ample support to your teenager throughout this time, as he or she is likely feeling all the emotions you are experiencing without having complex coping mechanisms for navigating such a foreign emotional experience at their disposal. Keep the lines of communication with your teen open, and offer empathy and compassion. This is a challenging time for everyone: be kind to yourself, and share your kindness with your teen. 

Many services, including some in the medical and mental health arena, that were once conducted in person were quickly switched to virtual settings. Although it may seem that support is limited, there are a plethora of treatment options that remain available for young people struggling with mental health issues. Should at any time you become concerned with your teen’s emotional wellbeing do not delay in pursing professional mental health guidance and if needed a proper mental health evaluation to help provide your teenager with additional support. 

For Information and Support 

Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know is in need of mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person for the long term. The earlier you seek support, the sooner you and your loved ones can return to happy, healthy and fulfilling lives.

Our admissions team is available to answer any general questions regarding mental health issues, treatment, and/or specific questions about the program at Pacific Teen Treatment and how we might be able to help your family. We can be reached by phone 24/7 at 800-531-5769. You can also contact us via email at or through our contact form.

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