Isolation at Core of Teen Mental Health Struggles

2020 was a weird and traumatic year for everyone. Here are some of the recent causes of teen stress and how to help relieve it.

Natalie Westphall, Staff Writer

There’s been a lot going on lately and it’s time that we start talking about it. More specifically, how it’s affecting us. There are many reasons that high schoolers may be struggling mentally during this time of coronavirus and quarantine.

During this pandemic, many teens have reported that their mental health has gotten worse due to quarantine. This is especially seen in young adults and high schoolers, students at Roseville included.

“My mental health has definitely worsened. It’s difficult to stay motivated and I haven’t been able to go out and see my friends or other people that much,” says Amari Rouse, a 9th grader here at RAHS.

It’s easy to see that coronavirus has taken a toll on everyone, whether one’s had it or not. The Center for Disease Control did a study in June, 2020 showing that racial/ethnic minorities, teens, and essential workers were experiencing disproportionately worse mental health problems than others during the pandemic. This could be because of worry for loved ones health, your own health, job instability, etc. Now, it’s February, and while vaccines are being sent out, coronavirus cases are still moderately high and the pandemic is having a detrimental effect on teens’ mental health.

Something else that is affecting students is having to stay at home. “I haven’t been able to go out and see my friends or other people that much,” says Rouse. “Everyone needs to see actual people once in a while, being isolated from friends and family is definitely difficult.”

Connecting with people might take a little more effort right now, but it’s more important than ever. Reaching out to friends and family can have a positive impact on our mood and happiness.

“It is hugely important for all humans to have social contact – it nourishes our being; shows us we are important and that we have an impact on the world around us,” said RAHS school psychologist, Emily Riebel. Keeping in touch, even if not in person, is something that can help, especially when stressed.

Stress comes from things such as: distance learning, health concerns, and social issues. Social media also plays a big role in mental health.

“It (social media) helps sometimes because if I’m bored it can make me laugh but what I see online can really affect my mood, either positively or negatively. I see real stuff on social media and it makes me sad to see that the Earth is basically falling apart right now,” Rouse said about apps like Instagram and Tiktok which can be used for fun as well as spreading awareness to what’s happening in the world. It’s important to stay aware but just as important to make sure that one’s mental health can handle it first.

Self-care is extremely important, especially at a time like this. Finding ways to relax, keeping in touch with friends, doing things you enjoy, and staying updated with what’s going on with covid-19 can help people manage stress according to the CDC.

“Bring it back to basics,” advises Emily Riebel on taking care of yourself. “Make a routine, set small goals each day so you can see you are making progress, praise yourself for your accomplishments and talk kindly to yourself.” Doing the little things can really make a difference in your life and help you become more grounded.

“This year has been difficult for so many reasons. If you need help, reach out to school staff or another trusted adult,” Emily Riebel included in her interview. There are people that can help you if you’re struggling right now. Things will get better.

There is an article called ‘Mental Health Resources’ by Olivia Knight that I urge you to read if your are struggling at this time. It has the names and ways to contact your school counselor as well as links and phone numbers to hotlines and websites that can help you seek help. You are not alone and you are valid. It may be scary, but please seek help if you are having trouble with your mental health.