Feeling Lonely? Reach Out: Isolation Takes Its Toll on Teens
By Amber Lau
Covid-19 has affected everyone immensely; however, one of the most underrated effects of this pandemic is how isolated teens have become. Coronavirus hit us so unexpectedly after everything shut down instantly. Before these harsh times, teenagers would go out with friends and have fun while socializing with one another. Suddenly, the world was in lockdown and it became dangerous to go anywhere without wearing a mask or without staying six feet away from others. Although these restrictions and lockdowns are necessary for the safety of the community, they have had a continuous detrimental effect on many people, particularly teens.
Since the pandemic began, teenagers have been very isolated from their friends, and even family, leaving them to feel lonely and unloved. Although there are ways to help cope with this and improve their mental stability, it requires them to reach out for help. Teenagers are at one of the most vulnerable states of their lives with all the pressures of school, work, and social interaction. When you put this on top of everything going on in our society at the moment, that is a lot of stress for teens.
One term that has emerged from this pandemic is “social distancing.” This term is used to describe the regulations to stay six feet apart from others at all times to reduce the spread of this virus. For teens, social distancing means staying home and not having any physical contact with their friends, which has been hard on teens who are used to socializing with people and talking face to face.
Although education is a major part of school, socializing and getting to know new people is also very important. With remote learning, it makes it harder to create and develop new relationships and friendships. I have noticed from my own personal experience that recently, even when teens are with their friends, they are not as outgoing with one another anymore. It may be because they don’t have anything to talk about, or it may be because they are becoming socially insecure or are feeling depressed. Social and communication skills are so important to daily life and the real world because the more people you know and have connections with, the better. Covid has really taken a toll on teen’s social skills and this can be harmful to their futures.
Before Covid, people had routines: wake up, go to school or work, interact with others, go home, and get rest. According to White Plains High School psychologist, Pam Schneider, “The unpredictability, change in routines, isolation, and potential for loss has most likely contributed to an increase in symptoms of anxiety and depression in many individuals, including adolescents. One of the most important things someone can do is to let someone know they are struggling.”
The pandemic has impacted the mental health of many, but there are ways to deal with it and get the help needed. High school social worker, Ted O’Donnell, says, “It’s important for students to know that they have many services available right here in the high school. They are not alone. They can contact social workers and psychologists directly via email or they can reach out to their guidance counselors who can connect them with one of us.”
There are many ways to cope with these mental challenges, but many teens are unaware that there are so many adults around them that can assist them. All they need to do is reach out and ask for help. In order to keep stable emotional health and steer clear of a dangerous path, students should maintain a routine with enough sleep, exercise, and keeping in touch with friends through technology. Through these difficult times, it is vital for adolescents and young adults to take time for themselves and relieve stresses of life.
With the recent spike of Coronavirus cases, it it extremely important for everyone to take the extra safety measures and be more careful than ever before. There are many ways for students to interact with their friends while still taking precautions. As a matter of fact, staying in touch with others is a great way to relieve stress from other parts of life, like pressures from school or family. Without this interaction, teens can easily fall down the path of isolation and depression and begin to feel like there is nobody who cares about them or understands what they are going through.
The best way to cope with this is to reach out to somebody who can help, whether it be a parent, other family member, teacher, coach, or a school psychologist/social worker. Keeping a routine that keeps students busy and interacting with others is a healthy way to maintain emotional stability. Just always remember, there are so many adults whom you can reach out to for help and you are never alone.