The global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was especially rough for the youth. The necessitated lockdowns and isolation protocols robbed them of many experiences and opportunities that they were looking forward to. These combined factors led to a significant negative impact on their mental health.
Hence, the team at Capital Choice Counselling would like to inform you of the pandemic’s impact on youth mental health, methods that can help them cope, and what you should watch out for.
Lack of Social Interaction
Among the host of problems that contributed negatively to youth mental health, the biggest one is the feeling of isolation and loneliness the pandemic caused among the youth. A survey conducted by the HEADSTRONG Initiative for the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) found that 48% of respondents felt isolated from friends and family. Their inability to participate in social activities and school gatherings created profound feelings of loneliness. The medically necessary lockdowns, unfortunately, created situations where relationships suffered due to the lack of physical interaction.
Anxiety and Depression
Another significant impact on youth mental health during the pandemic was the increase in depressive symptoms and the decrease in life satisfaction. A paper on the FACETS open-access journal shows how youth of all ages from different countries experienced similar trends with regard to anxiety and depression.
The odds of engaging in self-harm, suicidal ideation and attempting suicide increased during the pandemic. Girls were shown to be particularly affected in this regard.
Stress from Remote Schooling
The switch to homeschooling and remote classrooms created many difficulties for youth mental health as well. The HEADSTRONG initiative’s paper on the same subject reported that many students had significant trouble balancing their workload with their mental health.
The limited engagement with online learning made interacting with teachers and other students for help difficult. Disruptions with learning due to needing to use living spaces as makeshift classrooms were many. Learning the required content on their own proved arduous as family members had limited knowledge and experience with regard to the school curriculum.
The effect of the pandemic on parents and guardians also had critical implications for youth mental health. Due to job losses, sickness, death, and a variety of other factors that negatively affected the parental figures during the COVID-19 pandemic, youth of all ages also faced challenges that also impacted them negatively.
A report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that there was an increase in abuse, emotional and physical, wrought on the youth during the pandemic. The stressors that affected the parents and guardians trickled down to affect their children and wards.
All the issues affecting youth mental health during the pandemic require immediate attention to improve their situations. Thankfully, there are a host of activities that can help youth deal with all the factors negatively impacting their mental health.
Allowing children to express what is bothering them when they need to is a simple but effective way to help them cope. It is important to support and sympathise with their situations, even if it seems trivial. Encouraging them to speak without demanding it is also crucial, especially to someone who makes them feel comfortable and relaxed.
Taking a break from stressful activities can also help improve youth mental health. It allows them to rest and refocus. Participating in fun activities during those moments can further improve their mindset as well. Activities like listening to music, writing, drawing, watching movies and TV, playing video games, communicating with friends online, etc are great for reducing stress and creating positive mindsets in the youth.
Indicators to Watch for
The ability to identify mental health distress early allows for quick intervention and that prevents worse outcomes later in life. Unfortunately, most of the indicators of mental health distress in the youth can be attributed to normal childhood development. However, if these moods and behaviours prove to be acute and persistent over long periods of time with negative impacts on the life of the minor, it may be signifying an underlying mental health issue. Hence, you should watch out for.
- Isolation from friends and family
- Frequent angry outbursts and mood swings
- Changes to diet and sleep patterns
- Disregard or obsession with appearance
- Reduced motivation and passion
- Constant anxiety and dour expressions
- Alcohol and drug abuse
- Defiant and rebellious behaviour
Identifying and intervening as early as possible will help children develop and grow without adult mental health issues.
Capital Choice Counselling – Your Choice of Ottawa Counselors
The unforeseen nature of the global pandemic does not have to create a youth mental health crisis. With coping methods and timely intervention to ensure they receive the necessary help, the negative impacts on their mental well-being can be blunted and averted.
Please contact us if you need counselling services. Capital Choice Counselling has been providing expert counselling since its inception in 2006. Our team of counsellors, psychotherapists, social workers and psychologists are qualified, experienced and dedicated to ensuring your continued and improved mental well-being.