Mental Health of Adolescents: How Counseling can Help the Impact of COVID-19 on Teens

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives in ways we could never have imagined. People of all ages and walks of life have experienced unprecedented levels of stress and anxiety because of the pandemic.i

However, teens and young adults may have suffered the most, with the pandemic impacting their mental health more than any other age group.

The Rise in Teen Anxiety and Depression due to the Pandemic

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 37% of high school students in the U.S. experienced mental health issues during the pandemic, and 44% reported constantly feeling hopeless and unhappy throughout 2020.ii

Similarly, UNICEF's survey of 8,444 teens and young people in Latin America and the Caribbean showed that 27 percent of polled adolescents experienced anxiety while 15 percent struggled with depression due to COVID-19.iii

According to research, 4-5 percent of teenagers worldwide experience clinical depression each year. While depression is not that common before puberty, it begins to climb in the early adolescent years, affecting more girls than boys.iv

The World Health Organization reports that one in seven adolescents has mental health issues.v

Several national and international studies indicate an upsurge in mental health problems among teenagers and young adults following the pandemic

0718286001679586319.jpgCOVID-19 has caused tremendous disruption in the lives of young people, interfering with how they interact with friends, manage their school and extracurricular activities, and use their leisure time.

Social isolation, health difficulties, and distant education have all taken their toll. Furthermore, many teenagers had to deal with the illness and death of family members infected with the virus. They couldn't go to the hospital to see their loved ones or attend funerals and religious ceremonies.

All of this has resulted in exceptionally high levels of anxiety and depression in teens and young adults.

Anxiety is a typical reaction to stressful situations in life. It's natural for teenagers to experience stress, worry, and despair at such a trying time. The concern arises when anxiety becomes so overwhelming that it creates severe distress or interferes with your teen's ability to engage in study or everyday social interaction.

This is the time to consider seeking counseling for teens. An experienced mental health professional can help you recognize the symptoms of anxiety and depression and provide you and your child with much-needed guidance and support.

How to Recognize Anxiety and Depression in Teens

If your teen experiences severe anxiety or depression, they may have trouble dealing with low self-esteem, tension, hopelessness, helplessness, worry, or fear that get in the way of their everyday life at home and school.

Anxiety and depression in teens may affect their mood, relationships, and confidence. Mental health concerns may also lead to risky behavior. A teen, for example, may indulge in excessive drinking, substance use, or binge eating to numb their feelings or cope with stress.

While these behaviors may temporarily relieve anxiety symptoms, they usually exacerbate mental health issues over time.

Anxiety and depression in teens can show up in several emotional, cognitive, physical, and behavioral ways, like the following:

Emotional Symptoms

  • Anger

  • Irritability

  • Crying for no particular reason

  • Feelings of emptiness and despair

  • Low self-esteem

  • Loneliness

  • Feeling worthless and hopeless

  • Shame and guilt

  • Eating disorders

Cognitive Symptoms

  • A decline in academic performance

  • Problems focusing and paying attention

  • Forgetfulness

  • Having trouble making decisions

  • Self-criticism that is too harsh

  • Frequent suicidal thoughts

  • Physical Symptoms

  • Fatigue and a lack of energy

  • Appetite changes

  • Aches and pains

Behavioral Symptoms

  • Sleep problems

  • Alcohol and substance abuse

  • Risky behaviors

  • Social isolation

  • Avoiding school

  • Having conflicts with family and friends

  • Self-harm (cutting, burning, etc.)

  • Lack of interest and avoiding activities a child used to enjoyvii

How Counseling for Anxiety Can Help


Counseling for teens can provide an outside perspective and a safe place to talk about their issues, express concerns, work through their feelings, and develop effective coping strategies.

Counseling for anxiety and depression can help your child work through their feelings about the pandemic, learn how to deal with stress and anxiety, become more self-aware, and improve their self-esteem.

Also, teen counseling can be an effective tool for adolescents and young adults to learn to set healthy boundaries, develop positive ways to connect with others, and build healthy self-care habits.

In addition, a teen counselor may also help adolescents connect with helpful resources, such as support groups, that can help them manage challenges, get much-needed support, and improve mental health.

Family Counseling for Teen Mental Health Problems

Parenting a child with mental health concerns can be highly challenging. However, family counseling and counseling for depression can help when your child, and sometimes the whole family, can't handle problems independently.

Family counseling can help your child navigate their struggles, deal with stress, control their feelings, and change unhelpful habits.

Family counseling helps families work through problems that affect their members' mental health and relationships, such as worries about the health and behavior of children, conflicts between family members, and issues with mental health.

Family counseling may be an excellent way to help you or your teenager deal with problems like parenting issues, anxiety, depression, grief, mental health or behavior problems, suicidal thoughts, and other issues.

Your family counselor will examine a problem in the context of family relationships and dynamics to help you solve it individually and as a family.


The pandemic significantly impacted teenagers, who had to deal with various life changes, such as losing activities and social connections, school interruptions, health concerns, grief, and financial difficulties.

As parents and caregivers, it's crucial to recognize the signs of mental health problems in teenagers and give them the help they need, such as counseling for teens.

With mental health education, empathetic care, and proper mental health treatment, adolescents and young adults may overcome the pandemic's adverse effects and become better equipped to navigate life's challenges.

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