American youth stressed by uncertainty of the future
Resources to help youth cope with stress, improve mental health and well-being
Each of us has experienced our own unique mental-health challenges during the pandemic, and this is especially true for younger generations. COVID-19 upended the lives of youth both inside and outside of school, creating a sense of fear, isolation and uncertainty. It’s no wonder that in the past year, more than 15% of youth in America experienced a major depressive episode, according to Mental Health America’s 2022 State of Mental Health report.
Prior to the pandemic, younger generations were already experiencing significant mental health challenges. In 2018, for example, the American Psychological Association reported that more than nine in 10 youth ages 15 to 21 said they experienced at least one physical or emotional stress symptom—this includes feeling depressed or lacking interest or motivation.
The global pandemic arrived at an already stressful time for young people—finishing high school, starting college or entering the workforce. The 2021 APA study on stress reports that youth are experiencing higher stress levels about the future than adults due to the disruptions caused by the coronavirus.
As all of us work through this chapter of the pandemic, it is a great time to learn about resources available to help improve mental health and well-being. This includes tips on how to support teenagers with Mental Health First Aid, such as:
- Encourage a daily routine with consistent sleep, exercise and study patterns
- Stay connected with others and try to find moments of humor—laughter is medicine
- Have open conversations and talk honestly about their feelings or worries
- Make healthy eating choices and don’t skip meals
- Help them look for patterns or be aware of situations that make them feel particularly worried or anxious. Help them learn relaxation or distraction techniques when they are in these situations
- Limit the amount of time spent talking about or watching/listening to news media or social media if you are finding information about the COVID-19 situation overwhelming or distressing
- Engage in activities that bring joy, like arts and crafts, listening to music, reading or journaling
- Help them to understand that they aren’t alone. Most everyone is probably finding the current situation stressful, and we should be kind and patient with one another
- Be on the lookout for physical changes or new medical issues, these could be signs of teens internalizing stress
- If feelings of overwhelm and distress continue, seek guidance from a mental health professional
Regence members can access a spectrum of behavioral health resources
Whether you need occasional emotional support or ongoing mental health care, Regence has a variety of programs to prevent, identify and treat mental health and well-being. Regence members who want to understand what is available under their health plan can sign in to their account on regence.com, or call us for help finding the right behavioral health resources.