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Teen mental health declining as pandemic progresses; experts emphasize importance of family


BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) – The Centers for Disease Control cites that social distancing is important to reduce the spread of coronavirus. But, it reports doing so can make people feel isolated and lonely and increase stress and anxiety.

This is especially true for teens who can no longer socialize with classmates.

Alexis Meyers is a 16-year-old student who made the transition to at-home learning with the rest of her class.

“Most of our lives are social. And, we spend a lot of time with our friends. So, when the pandemic happened and we couldn’t do that– it was really hard. Really lonely. I didn’t really have motivation to do a lot of things. There was a lot of staying in my bed all day,” said Alexis.

Her mother, Valerie Meyers, is a child mental health counselor and says this problem is not unique.

“We have two pieces to why mental health is increasing with the pandemic. One, is because people don’t know what’s going to happen next. When we don’t know what’s going to happen next, anxiety is on the rise. The second part is, people are told social distance and be by themselves. So, now we have loneliness on the rise,” said Valerie.

Alexis says she’s noticed a troubling trend among her friends.

“If someone were to mention their mental health, it’s avoiding the topic, not talking about it at all. It’s kind of just something you don’t talk about,” said Alexis.

However, Valerie says bottling up your feelings can actually make the problem worse.

“When we’re not talking about it, people think that their thoughts are weird. That they’re not normal. So, then they just don’t talk about it. Mental health has had a stigma forever. We know that. And so, it’s our job as parents or professionals, around children, that we’re talking about anxiety and depression,” said Valerie.

Valerie says it’s important for people to lean on family members during this time because that’s who we’re likely spending the most time with.

For more resources on how to cope with poor mental health during the pandemic, you can visit CDC.gov.

Copyright 2020 KFYR. All rights reserved.



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