Though not a fan of the term trending, the state of Americans’ mental health is nothing short of a crisis and making for well-supported, above-the-fold headlines. Especially hard hit are young people who have paid a hefty price for COVID safety’s sake.
Take for instance a recent MTV/AP- NORC poll of 13- to 24-year-olds who say the pandemic has made it difficult to:
- Have fun: 55%
- Maintain their mental health: 49%
- Be happy: 46%
- Pursue their career/education: 46%
- Keep up good friendships: 45%
- Pursue passions/ hobbies: 43%
- Maintain physical health” 42%
- Have romantic relations: 40%
Mental health hinges on so many of the above factors. Without socializing, physical health, in-person schooling, etc., like us adults, kids suffer. According to a recent C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital national poll, 46% of surveyed parents see “a new or worsening mental health condition in their teens” since the pandemic’s start.”
That same poll found a 75% uptick in children showing up for emergency mental health evaluations.
The big question: What’s a parent to do?
Clinical psychologist Alan D. Blotcky suggests:
- Giving love, support, and reassurance
- Modelling how to manage feelings
- Maintaining routines as much as possible
- Getting them vaccinated and sticking with handwashing, masking, and social distancing.
All well and good, but…
A while back, I was reminded of the 1961 musical, “Stop the World, I Want to Get Off,” and took its title to heart. I turned off the news, started fast-skimming my printed editions and skipping social media altogether.
Stopping at least some of the noise.
Several weeks later, reinforcement came in the form of a piece written anonymously by an 87-year-old woman. Her lead sentence reads, “Sometimes I just want it to stop. Talk of COVID, protests, looting, brutality. I lose my way. Become convinced that this ‘new normal’ is real life.”
“Yes! Yes!” I said to myself. “Me, too!”
She went on to say, “I learned a long time ago to not see the world through the printed headlines; I see the world through the people that surround me. I see the world with the realization that we love big…”
Add to that, this from Story People’s Kai Skye: “Try not to forget… how sweet it is to lose yourself in the things that bring you joy.”
So, with kid(s) in hand…
- Don’t let tech depersonalize you; life should be personal. Get out of the house and do a bit of shopping instead of having all your goods delivered. Seeing people out and about and and being asked, “How can I help you?” can be uplifting.
- Invite friends over.
- Jack up the volume on favorite tunes and dance wildly about.
- Give exercise a chance, if only a short walk to get the juices flowing and help ease anxiety and stress.
- Read to your kids no matter their age; they’ll love it, as the 300 million monthly users of Audible can attest.
- Plant seeds in small pots, watch them sprout and grow, waiting for spring to go outside.
- Pick up a plant to two to green up the house. A few like philodendron grow well in water, no soil required.
- Cook up healthy meals that include inexpensive, protein-rich beans on occasion.
- Prioritize sleep. With too little, concentration and grades slip, anxiety and depression rise.
And, as you tap into your joys, boost curiosity, too, uncovering and sharing some of life’s magic…
- Our brains have more than 100,000 miles of nerve fibers.
- Of the 300 bones we’re born with, 94 fuse together by adulthood.
- “Talking to yourself is a good way to help maintain your focus while completing a task.”
- “Without your pinky finger, your hand would lose 50% of its strength.”
With thanks and well wishes, Carol