Firstly, let me just start by stating that I’m by no means a health professional. Rather, I’m a curious teen who like so many teenagers, has been navigating the complexities of COVID. From adults to teens and younger children, people around the world have been adversely affected by COVID-19. These past 17 months have been extremely difficult and as we look to hope and normalcy, the adverse effects cannot be ignored.
From my perspective, when the issue of mental health and wellbeing arises in a conversation, teens are often overlooked. If and when, we are given the chance to speak our minds, we are either misunderstood or not taken as seriously as we should be. With all of this in mind, it’s important to highlight the mental struggles that teenagers are going through, thoroughly address them, and to provide teens with the tools to work through the challenges they are facing. Change is happening. Real systematic change is needed.
Looking beyond COVID, teenagers were already quite vulnerable. In other words, being a teenager was hard to begin with. Adults have shared with me that being a teenager was the most difficult years of their life. Frankly, I can completely understand this. It’s not easy being a teenager. You are faced with so many new realities that didn’t exist in early childhood or adolescence.
For starters, there are the pressures to conform to the standards and expectations of the world, your friends, and your family. Then, there is the idea of having to discover who you are and who you want to become in a short time span. Not to mention, there’s school, home, and other responsibilities that weigh on your shoulders. On top of this, you have to navigate emotions that are completely new to you. I myself can attest that the list can just go on and on from here.
Add a world-wide pandemic to being a teenager just further complicates things.
For the adults reading this:
Imagine being a teenager in March 2020. The world stopped. We went from a two week extended March Break to now 17 months of COVID impacted schooling. All things online added to an already stressful situation as did seeing real world realities unfold on social media while living in isolation. From COVID deaths to social and racial injustices taking place, the world seemed to be burning.
The cumulative effect of all of those factors have been debilitating in many ways for teenagers. Mental health has deteriorated and we can’t pretend that everything in just fine. For there to be positive change there must be a shift that promotes Mental Wellness everyday of the year.
Fortunately, for us at Romero we are a community with supports and so many adults who deeply care. Also, The Toronto Catholic District School Board takes mental health and well-being very seriously and has a number of supports available as found here: Student Mental Health Resources
Looking ahead, let’s remember to take care of one another in our daily interactions. So, remember to be kind, listen, pause, find balance and importantly ask for help if needed.
Thanks for reading,