Over a year has passed since nationwide lockdowns began in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Vaccines are being delivered to millions of people, and it seems like there is a light at the end of a long tunnel of isolation. However, the virus is not behind us yet. “Normal” is still going to take time. For teenagers, this pandemic represents a larger chunk of their lives than people may realize. Depending on their age, teenagers have spent between 5-7% of their lifetime in this pandemic. A formative year of socializing and trying new things has most likely been stunted. It is no surprise, then, that a recent national poll found a significant increase in teenagers exhibiting anxiety, depression, and aggression since the start of the pandemic.
Tips For Parents
Like anyone else, teens need support from their family and loved ones. Dr. Jennifer Allen at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital shares nine tips for talking to teens about COVID-19:
- Acknowledge and validate their feelings
- Practice transparency
- Ask about their friends
- Ease their guilt
- Give teens control
- Provide facts in the face of uncertainty
- Give teens privacy
- Note changes in behavior or mood
- Take time to clear your mind
There are more tips about helping teens with anxiety and depression at the Anxiety & Depression Association of America (ADAA). The South Carolina Department of Health & Environmental Control (SCDHEC) has resources for managing mental and emotional health during COVID-19.
What Do Actual Teenagers Think?
Richland Library hosted a panel of teenagers to listen to their perspective. Led by YouTuber Briana T. Ford and Mental Health Specialist Taurus Sanders, three local teens discuss how the effects of COVID-19, racial tensions, and the new norm from 2020 have impacted their mental well-being, as well as how they are coping with it. This Richland Library event originally aired on January 30, 2021.
In addition, there is a gallery on the New York Times website of teenagers’ artwork and written reflections on their experiences during the past year.
Finding Activities and Distractions
Richland Library locations are offering age-appropriate Carry out kits that are available for pickup, offering a range of portable activities. The activities vary between library locations, and supplies are limited.
If your teen is looking for a great book, album, or movie, have them try out our Get Personalized Recommendations service to receive a curated list of suggested titles to check out.
Scheduling A Vaccine Appointment
As of March 31, teenagers age 16 and older are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine without parental consent. All vaccines approved for use in the United States have proven to be highly effective in preventing COVID-19. You can book an appointment through DHEC’s website and call their vaccine information line with any questions at 1-866-365-8110.
Able SC has a plain language guide that covers a lot of questions people have about the vaccine and what to do before, during, and after vaccination.