Hot Topics     Home and Family    

Teen anxiety on the rise



It’s important to listen to your teens and take their concerns seriously

teens, anxiety, pandemic, parents, listen

The global coronavirus pandemic has triggered a rise in mental health issues across the country, especially among teens. In a new survey commissioned by the National 4-H Council and conducted by the Harris Poll, researchers found seven in 10 teens are dealing with depression, anxiety or increased stress, or a combination of the three.

But what’s most concerning, researchers say, is the number of teens who report they need to suffer in silence. Sixty-seven percent of those surveyed said they feel more pressure to keep their feelings to themselves. Similarly, 67% pretend to feel fine when they’re really not because they don’t want to worry anyone. Over half of respondents indicated increased feelings of loneliness.

What are some possible reasons teens are feeling lonely? And why would a teen want to spend more time alone? Like adults, they’ve been affected by the pandemic as social interaction has been so markedly restricted. Their activities have been canceled, and video chatting is not the same as getting together in person. Given that no one knows when it will truly be possible to resume normal interactions, it’s harder to cope than if there were a known end point.

READ MORE: How mindfulness can help your stressed teen

Worse, still, there has been pressure from adults these recent months to be “fine”. It hasn’t been unusual to hear someone who is expressing distress about missing their friends, missing graduation, worrying about college applications, etc. to be met with a response along the lines of “Stop complaining. People throughout history have had it much worse than you.

Remember, distress isn’t a zero-sum game. Just because someone else has more, doesn’t mean that the person who is sad about missing graduation shouldn’t be sad.

What are the short-term effects of poor teen mental health if not addressed? How about disrupted sleep and appetite which can lead to less healthy food choices, trouble concentrating, and physical symptoms like headaches, stomach aches and generally feeling unwell.

What are the long-term effects of poor teen mental health if not addressed?

Some experiencing prolonged excess distress might develop mental health disorders such as depression or an anxiety disorder that could have a significant impact on functioning. Those with untreated depression or anxiety (again, now talking about disorders not just emotions) tend to struggle to complete college and maintain employment. Relationships are likely to be more challenging to develop and maintain in presence of a depressive or anxiety disorder. Some may develop substance use disorders.

The main takeaway from this survey is that teens are reporting a high level of distress and would like to be listened to. They’re feeling that their emotions are not taken seriously. Parents and teachers need to truly listen and not just jump in with a “fix it” or “stop it” approach that invalidates their feelings. Our society tends to emphasize individualism and a “fix it”/pull yourself up by your bootstraps approach rather than letting people know it is OK to need to lean on others and that it is OK to not be OK at times particularly when circumstances are challenging.




Other articles by HVP News Reporters


  • 4 ways students can develop entrepreneurial skills

    Give your child a head start

    Today’s students are tomorrow’s leaders. Young people who aspire to become prominent business professionals can now get a head start on the knowledge and skills necessary to become successful entrepreneurs before they ever leave high school. read more »
  • 6 natural ways to protect your health

    Remedies that your probably already have at home

    Natural and plant-based remedies have been around for centuries, and for everyday treatments like minor cuts, scrapes, and rashes, they can have real benefits. read more »
  • Why a healthier mouth equals a healthier you

    Take good care of your teeth

    Better oral health is strongly linked to better overall health, helping you speak properly, eat healthfully, and prevent certain infections and diseases. According to experts, it all starts with preserving your natural teeth. read more »
  • 8 summer driving safety tips

    Help avoid potential safety hazards

    Summer often brings vacations and road trips, which can put extra stress on your vehicle and one of its most important safety components: the tires. Higher pavement temperatures combined with normal wear and tear – plus added traffic volume due to summer travel – can contribute to potential safety hazards. read more »
  • Scrumptious ways to simplify summer meals

    Make weekday dining a breeze with easy, delicious recipes

    From everyday weeknight dinners to picnics in the park, warmer weather and longer days mean families want to spend more time together and less time in the kitchen. read more »
  • Supercharge summer fun with a sweet, simple salsa

    Your family will dive right in

    After a full day at the park or swimming pool, summer fun calls for some refueling. All that sun is sure to exhaust busy families, leaving little time for complicated snacks. read more »
  • Honey mustard cobb salad with tomato, avocado, bacon, egg and feta

    Empower your inner chef with convenient recipes and handy tools

    Bring joy back to the kitchen by taking the stress out of planning family meals, shopping for ingredients, and making your favorite recipes. read more »
  • Start your day strong with this strawberry oatmeal smoothie

    Six ingredients and a blender are all you need

    Making a delicious oatmeal smoothie has never been easier. Just six ingredients and a blender are all you need to make the perfect fruit smoothie at home. Deliciously sweet and creamy this strawberry oatmeal smoothie makes for a healthy and filling breakfast or snack. read more »
  • Running a local race?

    How to keep your feet healthy

    Whether you’re a novice jogger embarking on a couch-to-5K program or a marathoner serious about racking up finishers’ medals, you must take great care of your feet. read more »
  • Help kids avoid the “Summer Slide”

    Try the TurfMutt Foundation’s lesson plans

    Aligned with STEM standards, TurfMutt’s lesson plans teach kids valuable science lessons in the green space around them read more »