On Saturday 10th October 2020, we celebrate World Mental Health Day in a year that has been different for many of us.
For this year's World Mental Health Day, Sandra Green, SPIE's Occupational Health and Hygiene expert, explores how we can support the mental health of our teenagers during these exceptional times.
What with furlough, local lockdowns, and changes in working arrangements, it can be easy to forget that the mental health of our young people can also be affected by changes imposed on us by the pandemic.
So let's take a minute on World Mental Health Day to consider how we can support our youngsters during these exceptional times.
Closing schools earlier in the year was unprecedented and probably celebrated by many teens! However, the reality of having to stay at home day after day, attend online classes and not see friends would soon become tedious. Being an adolescent can be difficult enough without these added complications.
The human brain is an astonishingly complex organ, and in young people, particularly between the ages of 12 and 19, it is going through tremendous change which can result in teenagers being more susceptible to mental illness.
Have you noticed your child has questionable decision-making skills?
The part of a child's brain (prefrontal cortex) that is responsible for decision-making, judgement and self-control is the last part to mature at around 25 years of age.
This makes it difficult for them to consider "future thinking". They are less likely to think before they act or consider the consequences.
What to do:
You can talk about how the child's actions influence both the present and the future. These conversations can help the healthy development of the child's prefrontal cortex.
Ever wondered why your child stays awake late at night and struggles to get up in the morning?
The hormone responsible for initiating sleep, melatonin, is produced at night at around 10pm in teens. That's two hours later than adults. This makes them feel tired and ready for bed later in the evening, as a result, getting up in the morning is harder.
What to do:
Click here for some tips on how to help your child get a better night’s sleep.
There are also hormonal changes going on, so it's no surprise that a teenager's mood can be quick to change.
As we all know, there is no rule book for being a parent. What worked well for one child may not be right for another. Being a parent is extremely rewarding (it is honestly), but it can also be equally as challenging, especially when working full time while dealing with the consequences of a pandemic.
What to do:
Luckily support for children, teenagers and parents is widely available. There are plenty of services to choose from, but the ones below are specifically adapted for young minds.