17 Jan Covid and Young People: It’s Impact and What Can Help
Last year hasn’t been easy for any of us and the start of this year is also proving difficult with another lockdown well underway. This pandemic and the subsequent hardships that our lives have endured have never been more keenly felt than by our young people. They have been one of the hardest hit, I feel, with uncertainty and confusion around their future, education, career pathways and lives, with the lack of socialisation in the mix, triggering lots of emotions such as anger, frustration, sadness and fear.
Many have been studying long hours during the Christmas break in preparation for their forthcoming mocks, only to be told at the final hour that these were cancelled alongside the GCSEs and A level exams in the summer. Cancelled BTECs followed shortly after. Young people have been thrown into a land of uncertainty, with worries about their future grades, how this will affect their future pathways and the rest of their lives being the focus.
We must also not forget University students, who have had no face to face learning and a complete halt to any socialisation, making the University ‘experience’ non existent and not how they had imagined. Being away from home without family around to support them would only have negatively added to their mental and emotional wellbeing. Some that have recently graduated from University are also finding it difficult to start the careers they have studied so hard for as the pandemic has hit many employment opportunities hard.
All of this is very difficult for young people but above all, I can see how they are completely missing out on a chapter of their lives which is a time to be carefree, a time to have fun and explore, to socialise and a time for becoming more independent.
So if you or a young person you know is struggling and finding it difficult, what can help? Here are some of my suggestions:
- My first and most important point to take away is to know it’s ok to not feel ok. Hard times such as these will trigger lots of emotions so give yourself permission to feel anger, sadness and frustration. Allow feelings to come up to the surface and feel it rather than bottling it up. Let yourself feel
- Keep in mind that you can only control YOU not what is going on around you. So just focus on YOU and what you can do for YOU
- It is good not to spend too much time alone with your thoughts so time and regular chats with family/friends is vital
- Have a routine everyday and include one thing which you enjoy doing daily
- Try to stay present in the ‘now’ as less thinking about the possible future scenarios with “what if’s” will reduce anxiety. “Am I ok right now” is all you need to ask yourself
Remember that this is not forever. It is, however, important to talk to someone and let them know what is going on with you if your feelings are becoming overwhelming and you are finding you are unable to cope. You are not alone in feeling like this and it is important to know that there is help out there to manage these feelings and feel okay again.
The impact of Covid on the mental health of our young people cannot be underestimated so it is important to do what we can do now to help and support them.
If further coping strategies are needed for your teen/young adult, seek outside help.