QuaranTeens Get Real About ‘Scary Mental Health’ Struggles in Isolation

Two months into the coronavirus pandemic — where families around the world are adjusting to countless advisories about “flattening the curve,” closed schools and wearing masks everywhere — it makes sense that the general vibe feels uncertain at-best and deeply depressing at-worst for many young people. Recently, we surveyed 500 parents, checking in about what they worry about and what they’re noticing about their kids during quarantine. We found that nearly half the parents of teens (age 13-17) were worried about their kids facing depression and the vast majority worried about the increase in screen-time and lack of physical activity.

We’d previously caught up with a group of real teens to talk about how they were fairing mentally and physically since lockdown began — and the kids we’ve dubbed “QuaranTeens” opened up about their concerns about isolation and its long- and short-term affects on their brains. In our latest episode checking in (which you can watch above!), they were once again extremely candid about their lives now that they’ve established their quarantine routines. And, as any one who spends time with teens will know, they are stunningly perceptive and often just get it — more often than not mirroring a lot of the concerns the adults in their lives have.

They managed to cover how hard it is to be optimistic about returning to “normal” — bringing out sad, frustrated and irritable feelings — and how unnerving it can be that the routine of “doing nothing, all the time” has almost become a new normal in itself: “It’s starting to feel normal which is completely unbelievable — because this is not a normal situation at all,” Zaki, one teen interviewed said in the video.

They shared how it’s been difficult staying motivated and focusing on their school work, the difficulty of not seeing their friends or getting to enjoy the fledgling independence they’d gotten used to and the ever-present worries that someone they know or care about might get sick. In our Hatch Labs survey we also found that parents reported nearly 60 percent of their 13-17 year old teens were watching the news regularly and that the majority of their teens reported being concerned about a vulnerable family member getting the virus.

“My grandparents got coronavirus,” Reed, another teen, shared. “If somebody you love gets it, it’s just really scary, at first.”

Processing all these very real concerns about growing up during a pandemic while your body is also working overtime growing and changing as a teen? Less than ideal. Yet, the kids are finding ways to talk about their feelings and fears and find ways to be okay with everything not being okay — which gives parents an in, as Dr. Cara Natterson told SheKnows last month, to “grab the moment” and help them take care of their mental health and grieve for the experiences and milestones they’re putting on hold during this complicated and scary time.

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