All of humanity is well aware that this decade is off to a rough and shaky start. Thanks to COVID-19, many people have lost their loved ones or jobs. Zoom classes have taken the place of live, in-person education in many schools. Many haven’t left their homes since March, and of all the crazy things you see around you daily, a maskless face is seldom one of them. But, with all the guidelines out there to keep the population safe, a particular age group seems to be neglected and not accommodated: teenagers.
Adolescence has been a challenging stage since the beginning of time, but add a global pandemic to the mix and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. Zoom is one of the reasons why. Simply put, learning virtually is exhausting. It takes way more energy and brainpower to learn via Zoom than it does in person. Also, since the curriculum is more modified on Zoom, teachers don’t have as much time to teach the material and thus assign more homework. As demonstrated for years, too much homework never bodes well for a student’s mental health. Additionally, some schools with students both online and in-person have a hard time accommodating for the students online.
“Schools need to listen more to their students and be more flexible to adjust to students’ needs, especially since our needs are changing,” says Nechama Dina Eliyahu, a sophomore at Shaarei Bina, a girls’ high school in Hollywood.
Additionally, the current political unrest can also induce stress, trauma, and uncertainty. Due to the global pandemic, there are health and financial concerns that are becoming political. Human rights issues and opposing political views have led to violence, such as riots and security breaches, putting lives and property at risk. People have lost trust in their authorities. They want to reach out to the government to share their ideas or solve their problems, but they’re always being let down by the hypocrisy and bigotry the government has demonstrated. Social Media and news sources have been inundating our feeds with overwhelming political news, whether we like politics or not. The government’s disorganization–in addition to the stress, resentment, and anxiety COVID-19 is already causing – is making people become even more frustrated and bothered.
Another struggle deriving from COVID-19 is uncertainty regarding the future, the newfound futility of making plans, the redefining of our social lives, and the termination of previous anticipated plans. Plans coming into fruition was something we always took for granted – life is never predictable, but before COVID-19 we were tricked into thinking it was. Many people had exciting plans for the past year, many of which were canceled, postponed, or severely modified. Imagine the disappointment a young boy or girl felt as they were deprived of dancing with their friends at their Bar or Bat Mitzvah and instead seeing them through a computer screen. Similarly, there were many seniors whose high school experience was cut short. It’s not just the past experiences we all missed – we are afraid for our futures. We don’t know when COVID-19 will end, so we’re too scared to make plans out of fear of them being decimated. People say we have to adjust to this new normal, but honestly, it’s anything but normal.
Fortunately, teenagers who find themselves struggling with depression aren’t hopeless. Therapists worldwide understand how challenging the circumstances are on all of us, and they are willing to help out. Don’t think for a moment that asking for help makes you look weak.
“I think taking care of your mental health is of utmost importance, and I do not think that there should be a stigma attached to that. It should be the same way as going to a doctor for a check-up; going to see a therapist is a wellness check for your thoughts and your feelings,” says High-School guidance counselor Lauren Berley.
Finally, remember that you’re not alone. Every teenager in the world is struggling with the stress of COVID-19 in one way or another. Everyone’s feelings are valid, and everyone has a right to get the help that they deserve.