The pandemic has isolated many children from their friends and extended families — and appears to be leading to a rise in mental health problems. In one recent survey, almost 80 percent of adolescent girls reported feeling more lonely since the pandemic began. “It’s not just the fear of missing out, it’s the actual missing out,” one expert told The Wall Street Journal.
What can parents do to help?
Show empathy. Parents should “recognize the very real losses that young people are feeling right now,” Ann Murphy of Rutgers University told The Los Angeles Times. Many adults can recreate parts of their pre-pandemic lives more easily than kids can.
Create structure. A daily schedule can give children a needed sense of control, writes the psychologist Ann Kearney-Cooke. “Action is the antidote for anxiety and depression.”
Limit screen time. Many girls are spending more time talking to friends on social media, while boys are turning to video games. Both can deepen loneliness. Vivek Murthy, the former U.S. surgeon general, suggests phone or video calls instead.
Seek help. The pandemic has made it harder for many adolescents to receive mental health treatment. Online services can fill the gap.
A listening recommendation: On the “Teenager Therapy” podcast, five California high schoolers talk mental health, family and regaining a semblance of normalcy during lockdown.
This content was orginally shared in the NY Times.