What is it that teen's in Katy and the Houston area are experiencing today that is driving high demand for teen therapy and family counseling? What can be done to help our struggling teens living in Katy and Houston? In Part III of this series, we explore a factor in the increase in teen counseling and family therapy and what can be done to help.
Impact of COVID-19 on Teen Mental Health
According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and the Children's Hospital Association (CHA), they have declared a "National Emergency" in relation to teen mental health.
Rates of teen depression, teen anxiety, trauma, loneliness, and suicidality have all increased due to the pandemic. Between March and October of 2020, emergency department visits rose by 31% for teens ages 12-17. Emergency Department visits for suspected suicide attempts increased nearly 51% among girls ages 12-17 in early 2021 compared to 2019.
We are truly in a teen mental health epidemic within a world wide pandemic.
Specific Teen Concerns
We know that the pandemic has had a negative impact on many teens and their mental health. The increase in teen depression and teen anxiety in Katy and the Houston area has been noticeable. Below are some specific factors and teen concerns that contribute to the negative impact on our teen's mental health.
It is no secret that during the teen years, friends become the most important relationship in a teen's life. Your teen's friends play an important role in your teen's development. When our teens were children, mothers could help reduce the stress and fear the child may have. The fear center of the child's brain, the amygdala, is calmed with a mother's embrace. As kids mature into teens their brains also mature into teen brains.
As a teen, the mother's embrace no longer has the ability it used to have to calm a child's stress or fears. Your teen's friends now fit this role in helping to reduce a teen's stress or fears. Friends help your teen buffer negative feelings which helps reduce the stress hormone cortisol. Your teen's friends help a teen manage negative feelings and stress which helps boost your teen's self esteem.
This is one of many factors related to the importance of friends in your teen's life. Not having ready access to in person socializing with their friends negatively impacts your teen's mental health. Without the friend factor to act as a buffer to help your teen with teen depression or teen anxiety, the trauma related to the pandemic can intensify your teens depression and teen anxiety. This pandemic with the quarantine may have created teen trauma for your teen.
Pandemic Mania in the News
With the 24 hour news cycle, our teens become bombarded with information about the pandemic. Some headlines as I found on Google are:
"Texas announces record number of hospitalizations as its daily death toll rises"
"Corona virus: US hits record high in daily cases - BBC News"
"US sets record for new corona virus cases, surpassing 53,000"
"No one is allowed to go out: your stories from the corona virus outbreak"
What we don't see are the news stories about all the good that people are doing for each other during the pandemic. We don't see the stories on the progress in researching a vaccine. News about the pandemic has become weaponized by politicians and the media and it has a direct, negative impact, on our teen's mental health.
One thing parents can do is to limit the amount of repetitive news about the pandemic. With your teens and their devices, this can be challenging. You can encourage them to get their information from reputable sources. Talk to your teens about what they are hearing and open up the lines of communication. It's safe to not assume that just because your teen is quite and looks fine on the outside, that they are fine on the inside. Ask them and ask them again. Be that parent.
Your teens have likely had friends of have heard of peer's parents losing their jobs. This economic uncertainty can create high amounts of teen anxiety and possibly teen depression. As they watch their peers struggle whose parents have lost their jobs, they see living examples of the impact this could have.
Talk to your teens about the economic future of your family. If you stand a low chance of losing your source of income, tell them and explain the 'why' behind it. If there is risk of losing your source of income, have an honest discussion about that. Make sure to include the 'back up' plan in that discussion. This will help your teen feel less teen anxiety or teen depression. Where there is an absence of information, your teen may fill that space with worst case scenarios. Talk to your teens.
Loss of Anticipated Accomplishments and Milestones
Think back to your Jr. High and High School years. What are some of the great memories you still hold of that time? Was it attending the Homecoming football game and going to Homecoming dance? Maybe you played in the Homecoming football game. Did you attend your Senior Prom? Debate Team championship? Maybe it was the capstone event of any High School career -- GRADUATION!
Our teens are missing out on a large part of their Jr. High and High School opportunities. Last year, Seniors who worked so hard toward graduation were not able to enjoy the traditional graduation ceremony. Dances, sporting events, clubs, those things that our teens had invested time in -- stopped suddenly and without notice. These are milestones that teens consciously or unconsciously look forward to. The pandemic has taken this away from them and they experience the hurt of this loss. This can cause teen trauma that may persist with your teen.
These Jr. High and High school memories -- for me it was 28+ years ago -- and I can remember like it was yesterday. You may have had the same experience. We remember them as they have imprinted themselves in our memory as they were important, significant milestones in our lives. It's important to not trivialize the impact of this loss for our teens.
Talk to your teens and give them opportunities to discuss how they feel. When school does go back in session, those activities and milestones that they will take part in, help to make them memorable. We can't replace what was lost, but we can ensure we place value and importance on the milestones coming up for them.
Solutions to Help Teens in Katy and the Houston Area
Life before the pandemic was full of busy schedules. Teens spent the day at school, then extracurricular activities after school, part time job, studying before bed, etc. Those teens with mild teen depression or mild teen anxiety were kept too busy for many to recognize their struggles.
Now, with teens spending significant amounts of time at home, what used to be mild teen depression, teen anxiety, teen trauma symptoms, and more are no longer mild. As a result, parents are recognizing their teen's inner struggles. Teens are adept at hiding these struggles and a busy schedule was convenient to help them do so. The pandemic isolation brought these to the forefront and now help can be provided.
Then there are those teens whose parents understood the struggles their teens experienced. These teens may have been seeing a therapist already or they had been able to manage on their own. With the factors outlined here, teen depression, teen anxiety, trauma and other struggles became worse. Parents and teens both are reaching out, looking for solutions.
The lack of face to face, regular peer interaction and support for stress and emotions
The pandemic isolation and uncertainty of when it will end
Economic fears and anxiety either through parent(s) or friend's parents losing their job
Missing out on milestones either through school or extracurricular activities
The fear and uncertainty about what the future holds for school, activities, work, college, etc.
Specialists in Teen Therapy and Family Counseling in the Katy, Texas and Houston Area
We have the expertise to help your teen recover the happiness and hope for their future. You don't need to struggle with teen depression, teen anxiety, symptoms related to teen trauma or other teen and family struggles any longer. Start the journey towards feeling better today with Katy Teen & Family Counseling. It's as easy as following these three simple steps:
Contact Katy Teen & Family Counseling
Being your journey and let us be your expert guide on this journey of healing
Services Provide in Katy, Texas and for Those Living in the Houston Area
At Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we provide the following for those in Katy and the Houston area:
Neurofeedback Therapy for Teen ADHD
Teen depression, teen anxiety, symptoms related to teen trauma or other teen and family struggles can be a thing of the past. Help is right around the corner. For those in the Houston area, we are conveniently located off of I-10 and Pin Oak Boulevard.
How to Begin Teen Therapy or Family Counseling
To begin teen therapy or family counseling, simply contact Katy Teen & Family Counseling through our website or by calling 346-202-4662. Our Owner and Lead Clinician answers each phone call to help match you with the right therapist for you teen and family.
About the Author
Jason Drake is a Licensed Clinical Worker. He is a Specialist in Teen Therapy & Family Counseling. He has provided therapy to teens and families since 2003. Through his expertise, he helps teens who struggle with depression, anxiety, trauma, ADHD/ADD, and PTSD. He works with talented teen athletes who have experience mental blocks. Gifted students have unique challenges that Jason understands well. Jason uses CBT, EMDR, Neurofeedback, FFT, and Motivational Interviewing. We only work with teens and families which allows us to focus on what teens and families of today need. Resolving the struggles of today can assure a more successful tomorrow. Proudly serving Katy, Tx and Houston.