Tags: Biden Administration | Coronavirus | Coronavirus Special | generation z | lockdowns | mental health

The Mental Health of Gen Z in the Wake of COVID-19 Lockdowns

The Mental Health of Gen Z in the Wake of COVID-19 Lockdowns

By    |   Friday, 26 March 2021 10:47 AM

Governors across the United States have determined that closing government-run schools is in the best interest of American students. In some cases, governors have demanded privately run schools close also. These kind of decisions to enact national lockdowns must be reconsidered and revisited.

From New York to California, and from Minnesota to Texas, public health officials, teachers’ unions, and political activists have pressured politicians to act without due process to safeguard our children from COVID-19.

As a college professor and Minister, I am concerned by the rush of lockdown demands, and, the limited forethought these groups use in setting up safeguards to keep our students in school.

In response to these decisions, we must push back against Washington elites creating the national lockdowns and place these decisions into the hands of local officials.

If we do not revisit these lockdown policies, the mounting mental and economic health of our children and families will continue to be ignored and become worse than the COVID-19 pandemic itself.

The rise in mental health in teenagers is extremely troubling.

In what should be the best days of a young person’s life, the teen years are becoming an adolescent nightmare.

It could be a physical chemical imbalance, a family health history, image-based influences compounded by social media, a PTSD, the break-up of the family system, or a drastic change in the normal socialization structure of a student’s life that causes mental health crises in students.

Whatever the cause, the reality is that we have seen a rise in depression, and, ultimately, suicide in Gen Z, young people born between 1998-2012.

However, there is one cause at the moment that is front and center in the adolescent mental health crisis - the COVID-19 virus and the radical lockdowns resulting in school closures.

We’ve spent the last year insisting that science says our students should not be in the classroom - at a time in their life when education and socialization are fundamental to their personal growth and mental health.

Why the overemphasis upon the physical health of our students and the complete lack of concern for their mental and emotional harm?

Why are politicians and healthcare officials using such narrow and simplistic criteria?

Surely we could come up with a better solution to seated education.

According to a recent study by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Allstate Foundation (2020):

Before COVID-19, Mental Health facilities were populated with only 19% of adolescents. Since COVID-19, that number has risen to 39%. A majority of students are UNCERTAIN, NERVOUS, and STRESSED about school closures. And suicide is now the third leading cause of death in 15-19 year-olds.

As humans we were made to be with each other. Something special happens between people when they interact with one another in community. A withdrawal from friends and regular events like school, sports, jobs, and faith-based activities bring personal formation to teens. Without this crucial interaction during puberty and adolescent formative years, long term damage can be devastating to one’s self-esteem, social interaction, and mental awareness.

Through all of these political decisions, we have also seen a devastating loss of social development with the closing of shopping Malls, movies theatres, and sporting events for athletes and fans. COVID-19 lockdowns have caused isolation and forced teenagers to be alone for extended periods of time.

This isolation, coupled with poor self esteem, has caused stress, loneliness, self-harm, eating disorders, problems in the family, and the removal of peer influence to help with critical thought, problem-solving, and dialogue. The illogical decisions being made are proven by the new so-called COVID-19 bill that has $100 billion going to schools that will not even open.

As a parent, educator, coach, or youth leader, identifying students who are struggling is not always easy.

Poor academic performance is not the only indicator. We must pay attention to the loss of graded measurements and standardization, the impacts of the discontinuation of terminology, content, and vocabulary, digital fatigue from exhaustive online formats, and the loss of daily routines to simply wake up, eat, and exercise.

In the wake of these political decisions and national lockdowns, the discontinuation of in-person learning has left parents at home without access to the kind of teaching resources it takes to home school.

We are asking parents to pick up the pieces of cancelled graduation ceremonies, loss of college scholarship opportunities, terminated lunch services, and the loss of placement services for graduating students.

The state of our teenager’s mental health is at crisis levels. Instead of a teenager’s life being an American dream, it has become a nightmare.

Our schools must be safely opened in the coming weeks.

The devastating results of the national COVID-19 lockdowns on the mental health of our students must be reversed with a greater and more focused emphasis upon solutions for keeping our children in school.

After four decades of Youth Leadership, Jeff Grenell founded ythology to inspire, educate, and resource youth leaders to prepare the NextGen to lead in the Church and the world. Some of the services yhthology offers include, events, leadership development, resources, anti sex-trafficking, and humanitarian efforts. Follow Jeff on Twitter: @jeffgrenell

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Governors across the United States have determined that closing government-run schools is in the best interest of American students.
generation z, lockdowns, mental health
Friday, 26 March 2021 10:47 AM
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