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How to support your teen through the pandemic

Tips on how to recognize problems and how to be proactive

How to support your teen through the pandemic

Soon, we will be entering month ten of Covid-19 (or later depending on when you are reading this). 

Although there are very promising reports on the vaccine front, a “return to normal” – meaning hugging friends, shaking hands, not wearing masks, going to theaters – isn’t expected until summer of 2021 at the earliest. 

If that seems far off to you, it’s an eternity in the mind of a teenager, and the consequences of Covid-19 safety protocols, especially the lack of socialization, can be – and is – especially hard on them. 

The attendant everyday pandemic chaos can make it hard to notice warning signs, and remedying them on your lonesome can be tricky. The mental health professionals at Discovery Moodand Anxiety Program offer some helpful tips to recognize and effectively deal with a teen whose mental health is compromised by Covid-19.

Friends of mine with teenage kids have shared the particular effects this unprecedented worldwide health – and for many, economic – crisis is having on this specific age group. 

A few report their children seem remarkably okay, and happy with more screen time, less socialization, and less exercise, but they are the minority (and frankly, I find their assessments hard to believe). Most are indeed concerned about mental health issues exacerbated as we head into the shorter days, longer nights, dropping temperatures, and rising numbers of infections. It’s becoming more normal to hear about kids withdrawing, lashing out, sleeping more, or sleeping less. What may seem like “ordinary teenage moodiness” may in fact be a red flag.

As the folks at Discovery Mood and Anxiety Program put it, “Even if your teen has never experienced any mental illness symptoms before the pandemic, it’s important to learn the warning signs. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness 50% of all lifetime mental illnesses develop by age 14 and 75% develop by age 24. 

Quarantine can be an incubator for mental illness.  Factors like isolation, a lack of physical activity, hypervigilance of proper health precautions, and constant reminders of mortality via news reports can all contribute to the deprecation of mental health. 

Pay attention to unhealthy patterns. If you see patterns where your teen isolates himself and shows increased symptoms of irritability, perhaps it’s a good idea to have a conversation with them, or at least give an open invitation to talk.

The Discovery Mood and Anxiety program does not have offices in the mid-Hudson Valley, but  they offer free consultations at 714-828-0808, and telemedicine. They also offer online group meetings that are free for you to join. Check out

Even if you don’t feel the need to get professional help, it’s definitely a good idea to connect with your teen as best you can. Check in, and by all means let them know that no matter what is happening regarding Covid-19, you’re there for them, and if need be, you’ll get others to be there for them, too.

READ MORE: Mental health tips for COVID-era teens

There are many mental health support services available to you and your family.

Where can you get tested for Covid-19 or Covid-19 antibodies?

There are many different tests including diagnostic testing to detect if you have the virus and antibody testing for those who have had a positive test for Covid-19 and have recovered.

Below is a list of COVID-19 Testing Sites in four counties in the mid-Hudson Valley including Dutchess, Orange, Ulster and Sullivan Counties plus a link to the NYS Department of Health information section on Covid-19 testing.

There are several different types of tests available.

Diagnostic Testing

Currently, there are two types of diagnostic tests which detect the virus – molecular tests, such as RT-PCR tests, that detect the virus’s genetic material, and antigen tests that detect specific proteins on the surface of the virus. To decide which test is right for you, read more about the different kinds of tests from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Antibody Testing

Some sites are now offering COVID-19 antibody testing for those who have had a positive test result or think they may have had COVID-19 and recovered.

PLEASE NOTE: Antibodies can take several days or weeks to develop after you have an infection and may stay in your blood for several weeks or more after recovery. Because of this, antibody tests should not be used to diagnose an active coronavirus infection. At this time researchers do not know if the presence of antibodies means that you are immune to the coronavirus in the future. Read more from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Listings of testing sites in four mid-Hudson Valley counties

Dutchess County

Orange County

Ulster County

Sullivan County

NYS Department of Health explains types of tests, offers guidance, explains contact tracing and gives links for more information
Offers a complete overview on testing, what is being tested and how
type in your address or just zip code to find testing locations near you.

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