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How do I support a teenager during COVID-19?

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted a lot of the ways in which we connect with other people in settings outside the home, especially for adolescents and young adults who navigate the world primarily through their social relationships. Here are some ways you can support them:

  • Establish open communication, where they comfortable sharing their fears and worries related to COVID-19. They might need help navigating complicated thoughts and feelings, especially when they feel isolated from their peers and they do not know when they can resume their normal activities outside your home.
  • Keep each other informed about COVID-19 and the developments related to the way you carry out your daily life. You already know how savvy your teenager is with technology, so you would benefit from getting information and your teenager will feel valued as they help the family access essential information and services.
  • Encourage your teenager to keep in touch with friends and family members. You can initiate a regular family conference call and model creating meaningful connections for your teenager.

If you observe that your teenager is struggling with feelings of isolation, bouts of irritation, prolonged sadness or lack of motivation, inability to carry out daily routine and work on school requirements, and thoughts of self-harm or suicide, you can help them get through by providing access to mental health resources for adolescents.

Here is a guide on how to support someone having suicidal thoughts from Mental Health First Aid:

  • Assess for risk of suicide or harm
  • Listen without judgment
  • Give reassurance and information
  • Encourage appropriate professional help
  • Encourage self-help and other support strategies

For emergency situations, you may contact these hotlines:

  • 911
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Disaster Distress Helpline at 800-985-5990
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255
  • Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741

For more guidance, go to: CDC

This article was written and edited by the Tayo editorial desk and has been reviewed by an independent panel of subject matter experts.

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