The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has affected hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people around the world. In addition to its impact on our day-to-day life, it has also taken a toll on mental health, such as worsening stress levels.
One such group of people, of whom mental health issues are incredibly important, are youths. In this post, we explore how youths have been affected by the pandemic, and explore some ways which we can help.
The Unpredictable Future
Youths live in a world that is even more unpredictable than before. When plans get cancelled because of constantly changing government regulations, when news about the pandemic seems to get worse faster than it gets better, constantly changing information is a huge source of disruption.
This disruption can lead to feelings of hope and control being replaced by uncertainty and fear. Youths become no longer able to plan outings, coordinate activities, and simply can’t engage in their normal enjoyable day-to-day lives.
And, living in this constant state of unpredictability is a huge factor for stress and anxiety. If research has shown that 1 in 5 adults develop pandemic-related mental health disorders, what could this mean for our youths?
Support and Community
A study has reported that nearly one-third of its youth participants experienced worsened mood or increased anxiety during the pandemic. Many factors were raised, such as the reduced availability of support and community for youths.
Humans are social creatures, and we require social interactions in our lives. However, with events moving to a virtual space, or outright cancelled, it can be difficult for youths to find a common space to interact with their peers.
Furthermore, being cooped up at home, with family members in close proximity, can lead to feelings of a loss in privacy and sense of self.
Experts have argued that mental health resources are more important now than ever, especially during this period. With physical facilities being closed off because of government regulations, it becomes difficult for youths to find mental health support, such as counsellors and therapists.
Thus, a lack of support, or the absence of a community to rely on, leads to many youth feeling lost and discouraged. Without a strong network of people to share their thoughts, process their emotions, and just go out and have fun with, youths might start to become more shut-in.
So what can be done?
Certainly, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic affects all, not just youth. However, with how important the developmental stages are, it is important to seek out healthy ways for youths to cope with this pandemic.
The reasons listed above are just a few of the many impacts COVID-19 has had on the mental health of youths. As a youth, here are some tips to try out:
- Process emotions together. The pandemic is something that affects all, and each individual will process it in different ways. Carve out time to check in with somebody, and find out how they are really feeling. This is one of the best ways to see things from different perspectives, and share support with one another.
- Find things that can be controlled. A lot of feelings of disorientation comes with a loss of control. Building routines, making small opportunities to socialize, and being intentional about your actions can make a huge difference when coping with an uncertain world.
- Look out for stress and anxiety, and find support. Strong emotions do not just manifest themselves in terms of thoughts and feelings, but also have physical signs like shortness of breath and difficulty sleeping. If you notice such signs, it could be a signal that your body is struggling. You might want to check with a doctor, or a mental health professional to diagnose the situation.
The path forward
Coping with this pandemic is not going to be easy. The bright side? Everyone is going through it together, and humans are adaptable creatures. As humans, we adapt to change, challenges, and the struggles that make up life.
Mental health is more important now than ever, and we have to adapt. Whether this means making our counselling services available online, or producing resources to help individuals find help, we believe that we can get through this, together.
BlankSlate Counselling is here to help anyone experiencing mental health issues. We believe that with care and trusted support, we can build a thriving population that supports mental health in Singapore.