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Thousands of Teens Fighting Lockdown Loneliness

by Kyndall Chandler

I floated on my back in my friend’s pool, waiting for the rest of them to get their
swimsuits on and get in. A generic pop song played from a Bluetooth speaker, but I could barely
hear it through the clear water that flowed through my ears. Suddenly, a splash interrupted the
peace of the pool, and I was pushed under the water for a moment. I popped back up and
laughed at my friend who was now wiping the saltwater out of her eyes. “This is definitely
better than quarantine,” she said after wiping some water droplets off of her face.
“Absolutely,” I reply just before the rest of our friends climb into the pool for the afternoon.

Beginning in March 2020, the entire United States seemed to come to a standstill.
COVID-19 caused many changes to take hold in the U.S. and everyone was affected. One group
that has been and is still being affected is the population of adolescents. During the shutdown,
the school transitioned to online learning which means the socialization part of school was done
away with (Addressing). Of course, this was a protective measure to ensure the safety and
wellness of the students, but the change is having long-term effects (Addressing). During
adolescence, teens are typically given various opportunities to test out their personal skills and
to develop a permanent personality amongst their peers (Addressing). By tempting the
boundaries of personal relationships adolescents learn how to be proper adults and what is and
is not acceptable in a certain environment (Addressing). Because of online learning, there will be
older teens and young adults that will have to learn these lessons much later in life. Another
problem caused by the lack of socialization is depression (Effects). Depression was very
common in teenagers even before the pandemic but now it is more prevalent than ever. The feeling of isolation can be crippling for a young teen and can lead to feelings of despair, paranoia,
and helplessness (Effects). These feelings can lead to less than desirable outcomes including
further isolation, self-harm, and suicide. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in
adolescents aged 10-14, according to the CDC (CDC). While suicide rates had declined since
2018, the difficult circumstances of 2020 have been cause for concern (CDC). Patterns have
shown that while suicide rates tend to decline or remain stable during disasters, long-term
effects of those circumstances cause a rise in suicide deaths (CDC). Suicide can be prevented if
the right recourses are available and thousands of teens across the US are trying to find ways of
escaping the dreadful isolation that COVID created but are finding their resources have been
limited by the lockdown.

There are several organizations that are founded on the purpose of helping people with
their mental health, but there are few that are directed toward teens specifically
(Advocacy). NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is an organization that has a division
catering to children, teens, and young adults in need of mental health care (Advocacy). Amid
the pandemic, they have been given access to online mental health resources, a mental health
hotline, and a crisis text line (Advocacy). On their website, they have links to articles, and
webinars that can help teens understand their own mental health and help adults understand
their children (Advocacy). NAMI has also been a part of advocating for policy changes on the
federal level including advocating for the National suicide hotline designation act which created
a 3-digit number for national crisis incidents (Advocacy). The organization is also advocating for
better crisis response teams as well as more call centers to take crisis calls (Advocacy).

With the help of the NAMI organization, there are lots of things that you as an individual
can do to help teens and young adults around the world. On the NAMI website, there is access
to petitions that can help make a difference. One such petition is a petition to support the
Mental Health Access Improvement Act which will help improve people’s access to mental
health professionals regardless of insurance type (Quorum). Currently, there are 9470 people
who have taken action but 530 are still needed (Quorum). If you are interested in helping,
please visit https://nami.quorum.us/action_center/ and sign the petition, donate to the
organization itself, or both if you are able. Help children, teens, and young adults across
America get in touch with the resources they need to fight the loneliness that the COVID-19
virus has brought upon them.

Resources:

Admin. (2016, December 5). 11 negative effects of lack of socializing. PTSDJournal. Retrieved
February 19, 2022, from https://www.ptsdjournal.com/posts/11-negative-effects-of-lack-
of-socializing/
Advocacy. NAMI. (n.d.). Retrieved February 20, 2022, from https://nami.org/Advocacy
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, February 24). Changes in suicide rates –
United States, 2019 and 2020. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved
March 10, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/71/wr/mm7108a5.htm
Dawidowicz, P. M. (n.d.). Addressing adolescent needs for socialization in … – eric. Retrieved
February 19, 2022, from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED508997.pdf
Quorum. (n.d.). Nami’s advocacy headquarters. NAMI. Retrieved February 20, 2022, from
https://nami.quorum.us/action_center/

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