May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and with the current health crisis we need to check in with ourselves and others now more than ever. If you have a teen or young adult in your life, they may be feeling especially depressed or anxious about school and event closures due to the novel coronavirus. Here is some additional information about teen mental health and suggestions for what you can do to help. 

A Time of Change

The teenage years are full of change and transition under normal circumstances, but throw in a worldwide pandemic and it can feel like their world is spiraling out of control. Most young adults can feel invincible, but this health crisis is bringing about abnormal fears that can impact daily life. 

“Suddenly their safety and security is being threatened and challenged from multiple angles, so we will see fears that weren’t there before,” says Lindsay Fazio, PhD, a psychologist at NorthShore University HealthSystem. “We should be concerned if their fear impacts their sleep, emotions and relationships.”

Unprecedented Peer Pressure

Your teen may also be facing peer pressure from friends to spend time together despite rules for social distancing. Even as the Back on Track plan reopens Indiana’s economy, Hoosiers are still expected to maintain social distancing among those outside their own household as much as possible. 

You may also be dealing with parents of your child’s friends who don’t think social distancing is necessary. Do your best to explain the necessity of these safety precautions and enforce them within your family, while still allowing teens to learn independence that is paramount during this stage in life. 

How to Help

Focus on Mitigating Risks- If your teenager is displaying extra anxiety or fear of the virus, try to focus on hand washing and other sanitation precautions that can help. If you have a young adult who likes to craft, try learning to make fabric masks together to donate within the community. 

Listen and Validate Losses- Missing out on prom, graduation, college visits and even just the normal end of the school year may be devastating to your teen. Even though it can be easy to trivialize these losses in the face of the larger pandemic, try your best to validate how they are feeling about missing these rites of passage. 

Some teens may want to do a “virtual prom” and some may not want to have a big celebration for graduation right now. Listen to what they want and how they are feeling and do your best to support them. 

Monitor News Intake- Whether it’s via social media, television or other sources, taking in an overabundance of news about COVID-19 is not healthy for anyone right now. Try watching a reputable news source together and then discussing it as a family. 


If you are especially concerned about a teenager in your life right now, here are some resources that can help.