Being a teenager can be hard, but teens today are also having to navigate a world in crisis due to the coronavirus pandemic. To help ease the mental health burden on teens, University of Arizona public health experts have created a video and list of resources to help teens through this unprecedented time.
Stay-at-home orders have kept teens out of school and away from sports, clubs and friends. Physical distancing can be hard to cope with for everyone, but supportive resources curated for teens are scarce, said Cody Welty, a third-year doctoral student in the Department of Health Promotion Sciences in the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health.
Welty worked with his mentor, public health associate professor Patricia Haynes, to create the video and resource list for teens. The two of them also were part of the team that created a toolkit for parents and teachers of school-age kids.
"Parents were saying that they don't really know what to do right now," Welty said. "Everything is totally different, and we're all out of our routines. It's is a challenge for everyone, but in particular teens, who are social and need routine and structure to help them be happy and healthy."
The advice Welty shares in the video, "How Do I Get Through This? A Teen Guide to Surviving COVID-19 at Home," is based on scientific research on public health and how to change personal behavior. He reminds teens that mental health is just as important as physical health and recommends setting an alarm to manage sleep, scheduling time with friends virtually to maintain connection, picking up a new hobby, putting on normal clothes and reaching out for help if you need it.
"Many teens have lost out on important activities in their lives. I like how Cody's video acknowledges their disappointment and also encourages teens to focus on what's in their control," Haynes said.
The video is being shared on social media, and some teachers are sharing it with their students. Welty and Haynes hope the video format is familiar to teens who are also on TikTok, YouTube and Instagram.
"We wanted to create an approachable video that speaks directly to teens," Haynes said.
Next, Haynes' UArizona Stress and Sleep Research group is working on a video guide for parents of teens. Until then, a list of tips for parents of teens can be found on the College of Public Health website.