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To support the youth in recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic, mental health services need to be implemented in nearby community centers, schools and settings where teens congregate.
Through multiple studies, a recent CNN report finds during the first year of the pandemic teenagers' brains aged more quicker in the United States.
They attribute their abnormal brain development to significant amounts of stress accrued in lockdowns, during which teens and adolescents were separated from familiar support structures.
A study that stands out is Biological Psychiatry: Global Open Science on the consequences of the pandemic on mental health and brain development in adolescents.
The study compared results from a group of youth before the pandemic and a group of youth after pandemic-related shutdowns ended. They found that the youth's brain had neuroanatomical features more common in older individuals or those that have experienced extreme adversity.
In addition to advanced brain development, the youth were experiencing poorer mental health.
Teenagers' elevated levels of stress, anxiety and depression result from the pandemic's isolating and traumatic experience. An expert at Psychology Today argues that social isolation alters people's brains.
Teenagers and seniors are the most vulnerable to brain alterations caused by isolation. As a result, services to assist these groups in recovering are necessary.
The Covid-19 pandemic brought attention to the systematic problems that harm people. Although having few connections and minimal connections has proven to affect people negatively, our culture has continued to grow more alienating.
Many of our interpersonal interactions nowadays occur through a screen. According to a report by Exploding Topics, screen usage in the United States averages seven hours and four minutes each day.
People have unlimited access to a wide range of platforms through the internet. When they become bored of one, they can switch to another.
To combat the increasingly alienating culture affecting the youth, supportive programs that build connections should be implemented in accessible locations.
Community centers should expand teen programs to include well-trained mentors who can counsel teens who are struggling with their mental health. These centers may include skill-building programs to help teens broaden their skill sets.
The YMCA is a model program that supports teens by allowing them to work on their leadership skills, prepare for college and participate in community-building events.
Teen centers can help students with their academics and job searches by providing tutoring and job experiences to add on to their resumes.
Providing a space for teens to interact with others can help them avoid feeling isolated. In the aftermath of the pandemic, teens are in need of a sense of community.
Additionally, services to assess students' mental health should be offered in schools. State funding should be made available to support these programs because assisting the following generations will allow society to progress.
Isolating experiences during the pandemic have affected teens' yet, it is not the only issue plaguing the youth. Generation Z and Millennials are subjected to many traumatic experiences, including high rates of inflation, social disconnection, climate change and more.
Depression, anxiety, self-harm and suicide among adolescents have risen in past years, according to NPR. Since 2007, suicide and depression rates have increased by 60%.
Externalized dangers known to contribute to mental health disorder issues, such as cigarette usage and excessive drinking, have decreased in recent years, according to scientists. Despite this, youth continue to face internalized risks such as anxiety, depression, suicide, suicidal ideation and self-harm.
This generational shift is the consequence of the youth being exposed to the internet at an early age when they are impressionable. Unrestricted access to unlimited information harms young people because they discover things that their young brains are incapable of processing.
Teens are suffering a high proportion of mental illnesses due to issues exacerbated by the pandemic. Students reported feeling lonely despite an increase in interactions through technology.
Furthermore, girls are suffering from mental health crises at higher rates than boys. Emergency room visits for suicide attempts increased by 51% for teen girls but only 4% for teen boys.
Unrealistic societal expectations about a young girl's appearance are likely to make girls insecure and low self-esteem is a leading cause of poor mental health.
Since teen girls consume social media differently, the wide gap must be addressed. Parents can play a vital role in assisting their teens in recovering from bad mental health by restricting their use of social media.
With societal technological changes, American teenagers face more than the isolating experience they endured during the pandemic. To assist them in recovering from poor mental health, services must be implemented in locations where they can access them.
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