- Did you witness any mental health changes in your pre-teen and teen patients?
In general, we’ve seen an increase in anxiety amongst our younger patients. There are a number of reasons that we believe this has been the case. They include the isolation that the younger people experienced during Covid, the side effects that they experienced from not interacting with their friends during Covid and related difficulties.
- In your experience, how did the Covid pandemic affect teen sleep?
Lack of a constructive routine was one symptom that we came across time and time again. It’s hard for young people, or anybody for that matter, to create a predictable and constructive schedule when they’re not allowed to leave the house and have no set responsibilities. So Covid was tough on everybody including teens and definitely made it more of a struggle for them to get quality sleep.
- What factors contributed to any change in mental health and sleep in the teenage population?
We’ve seen a real boost in screen use amongst teens and this has not been good for their mental health. A great deal of research has been conducted and issued which clearly demonstrates that young people are more likely to develop anxiety, stress, and depression when they’re on their smart phones or similar devices for large chunks of the day. In addition to the isolation felt from not attending school during Covid, this was the biggest problem that we witnessed.
- What advice would you give parents who want to help their teen sleep better?
We advise all parents to make an effort to have their children put away their smart phones at least an hour before sleep. This is obviously not the easiest thing to accomplish but research shows us that having time before sleep without electronic screens improves the sleep quality that young people receive.
- What steps can teens take to improve their mental health? How can their parents help them?
There are a number of things that teens can do to improve their mental health. Those things involve regular exercise, a healthy diet, spending social time with friends and relatives, and not overdosing on screen time. Parents can help them accomplish these things by speaking to them in a respectful manner, and not giving up when the going gets tough. Teenagers are known to fight for what they want but they don’t always know what’s best for themselves, so speak openly with your teenager with regards to what is in their best interests and try to find a compromise which will help them relax and sleep better so as to feel better in the morning.