While one’s teenage years are often marked by fun activities with school friends and the discovery of the kind of person one plans to be, those same years can also be socially draining and brutal for one’s mental health. This is evidenced by new numbers from the EU suggesting that more teens than ever are seeking counseling or psychiatric help since the start of 2020.
This is understandable: the past year has been unprecedented and unrelenting, with people forced indoors for long stretches of time. Teens missing big milestones, missing their friends, and wanting to get back out to their normal lives are compounding these issues with normal teen problems like crushes, bullying, and finding one’s place in the social order.
According to reports from various countries in Europe, hospitalizations of teens for mental disorders is up as much as 80 percent from the start of 2020. In France and Belgium, especially, the numbers are staggering, showing thousands of teens pouring in for consultations. In some hospitals, the numbers have tripled just since last year.
Teens have reported feelings of loneliness, helplessness, and general malaise due to recent events. Other, more serious cases include worsening diagnoses of anxiety disorders, depression, eating disorders, and self-harm. “We have young people who have lost 20kg and whose parents didn’t realise it. The third group is more related to serious depression or even psychosis, with some having a feeling of persecution or paranoia,” says Professor Marie Delhaye of the Erasmus Hospital in Brussels.
Many teens with existing mental conditions have seen them worsen in the last year under the extreme conditions. Staying out of school for months has intensified the symptoms of attention disorders for many young people, several of whom report that they are now finding it almost impossible to focus.
Others who already suffered from anxiety or depression have only found their conditions worsening as they go for months without seeing friends or attending school. Without a set daily schedule to occupy their time, these teens simply sink deeper into their conditions, unable to find the way back out.
This is why it is so important that families take the time to speak with their kids. Help is out there, and no one is alone. If you or someone you know is suffering from mental illness, reach out to a professional for help. There is assistance for those who need it as long as you know where to look.