Thanks to wider availability of vaccines and declining local rates of COVID-19, we’ve entered a new period in the pandemic. Parts of life are returning to what families were used to before coronavirus temporarily disrupted so much. As we increasingly return to obligations and pleasure outside of the home, it’s important to be aware that youth and adults alike will be learning to cope with emotions and feelings related to the experiences of the past year.

On the Pulse spoke with Dr. Yolanda Evans, an adolescent medicine physician at Seattle Children’s, about what kids and teens have experienced and how best to support them through this new period of time.

“We have seen an increase in reports of anxiety, depression, and eating disorders among teens,” Evans said. “For many, the coping strategies they would’ve used in times of stress, like hanging out with friends or participating in after-school activities, or even socializing at school, were taken away with physical distancing.”

While some kids thrived with more isolation and remote learning, many became disengaged, uninspired and lonely. Nearly everyone feels they missed out on important shared celebrations and milestones they’d been anticipating. Some are grieving the loss of a loved one, and some are dealing with financial impacts to their family. Kids may feel anger, sadness, distrust, fear, or a combination of those emotions due to the events of the past year. Some kids and teens are entering this new phase with pent-up energy and excitement and eagerness to be on the go, but others feel exhausted from so much stress and loneliness.

  • Validate and model
  • Ease back into routines
  • Foster resilience and praise efforts
  • Schedule missed healthcare visits
  • Keep listening, observing, and checking in
  • Know the signs of a mental health problem

Read the full article about youth mental health by Heather Cooper at Seattle Children's Hospital.