Teenagehood. When friendships are close, intense, and full of eventful memories. When acceptance from friends means everything.
But for what is supposed to be some of the most social times of their lives, 61% of Year 12 students have socialised with their friends less since the COVID-19 pandemic began, our Coronavirus & The Class of 2020 report has found. 23% said they had socialised the same while only 16% said they had socialised more.
In an article for the ABC, psychology professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore said that without the social interactions they need, teens risk underdevelopment of critical social skills, which can lead to anxiety or depression. While isolation poses big mental health risks for all ages, it’s particularly so for adolescents.
These consequences are seen in our survey responses, as more than three-quarters (79%) of students said that the pandemic has negatively impacted their mental health.
First, there’s loneliness.
“Being someone who thrives in situations with others and especially being around my friends, covid has impacted my mental health and put me into the worst depression and anxiety of my life, although it is a lonely battle, I am aware that other people are going through it too,” a 17-year-old female from Victoria said.
Secondly, there’s less in-person support during school.
“During remote learning, I’ve suffered panic attacks, constant stress, stress eating, loss of appetite, sleep deprivation and over sleeping. Without my friends, classmates and teachers around to help me I feel trapped,” an 18-year-old female from Victoria said.
And thirdly, there’s no relief between the bad times.
“At the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak my very close uncle passed away due to the virus which caused enormous strain on my mental health and due to the circumstances we weren’t able to go to his funeral or be with my family at the time. In a normal world I would enjoy being able to leave the house to see friends but I’ve been stuck in the house under these bad circumstances which has made it rough,” a 17-year-old male from Victoria said.
While young people can stay in touch and connect with friends through social media, it’s clear that this can’t replace face-to-face interactions.
If you or anyone you know needs help, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36.