A new way to deal with the declining mental health of adolescents
Have you ever wondered how the pandemic influences the mental health of children and adolescents? I bet you have, since it is recently a frequently raised topic.
Teenagers may appear to be less at risk for severe COVID-19 symptoms, but the pandemic has significantly disrupted their lives too. Social distancing and online teaching are especially challenging for adolescents. Two of the developmental tasks of adolescence are developing social skills and empathy and a sense of identity. Both of these tasks happen through interactions with peers, which now is deprived due to pandemic. The inability to fulfill developmental tasks can lead to a deterioration of mental health.
Roberts et al. (2018) investigated the efficacy of an enhanced version of the Aussie Optimism Program, consisting of 20 lessons of optimism and social skills. The design incorporated a large sample size of students aged 10–11 years and their parents. Therefore, the results have significant credibility. After the pre, post, and follow-up study it was concluded that Aussie Optimism with teacher training along with coaching may have the potential to positively impact on suicidality and pro-social behavior in the pre-adolescent years.
Faced with new realities of home-schooling and lack of physical contact with family members and friends, it is important that we look after our mental health.
To reduce the increasingly high level of health burden among young people, we need to engage in more prevention and mental health promotion at a number of levels and specifically target anxiety and depression before they emerge.
Roberts, C. M., Kane, R. T., Rooney, R. M., Pintabona, Y., Baughman, N., Hassan, S., … & Silburn, S. R. (2018). Efficacy of the Aussie optimism program: Promoting pro-social behavior and preventing suicidality in primary school students. A randomised-controlled trial. Frontiers in psychology, 8, 1392.