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:

  1. Have fun: 55%
  2. Maintain their mental health: 49%
  3. Be happy: 46%
  4. Pursue their career/education: 46%
  5. Keep up good friendships: 45%
  6. Pursue passions/ hobbies: 43%
  7. Maintain physical health” 42%
  8. 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…”

Again, “yes!”

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.”

Cool, no?

With thanks and well wishes, Carol