Mental health disorders in teenagers have increased dramatically in the past few years in comparison with a decade ago due to various factors. Although resources for better mental well-being and help is now more easily available, they are likely to become even more common in the near future.
Secondly, the coronavirus pandemic has also contributed to the rise by further adding to the problem. Due to coronavirus-related lockdowns and restrictions, many teenagers are spending more time at home and have fewer places to socialize and share their feelings.
In addition, since the virus has overwhelmed hospitals and strained healthcare systems of all countries, it is difficult to find medical help for many especially when it comes to mental health disorders.
At the moment, hospitals in countries including the US are once again planning to delay other medical procedures and focus more on the incoming coronavirus patients as they are increasing day by day and are hard to accommodate.
According to the current predictions, the pandemic is unlikely to improve any time soon. Instead, the start of the flu season will only make it more difficult to manage the health crisis and lead to a ‘twin-demic’ in the colder months.
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During this time, teenagers and children are going to experience more issues related to mental health. Many may even develop anxiety disorders or depression. So, what can be done to help the children?
A new study shows that one important step which can help adolescents and children keep mental health problems away is engaging in activities outside of homes instead of sticking to television, laptops, and mobile phones.
The researchers from the University of British Columbia found that teenagers, specifically girls, had higher levels of anxiety and displayed signs of depression more often after spending two hours or more on their phones or laptops.
On the contrary, adolescents who engaged in extra-curricular activities instead of scrolling on their phones after school was comparatively more mentally stable as well as had an optimistic approach and outlook.
The findings of the study, which appear in the journal Preventive Medicine, therefore, conclude that adolescents should spend more time in activities after school even if these apply more to girls than boys. A high amount of screen time is harmful to people regardless of gender.
Although the study was conducted prior to the current health crisis, its results are important more than ever now that mental health disorders in teenagers are rising at an even higher pace.
Not only are educational institutes closed at the moment but extra-curricular activities are also difficult to find, which may also be a factor in a higher prevalence of anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems for the past eight months.
Many people, in addition to teenagers, are spending an excessive number of hours in front of screens as a coping mechanism or simply out of boredom.
While the authors do not suggest people go out as the risk of the coronavirus is still very high, they recommend taking alternative options and staying in contact via calls, video chats, and others, all of which can help in dealing with mental issues.