We know that continued physical and social isolation is impacting all of us, but recent studies show that socialization is especially important to young people and the pandemic is taking a disproportionate mental health toll on children and teens. While our teenagers and children have largely been spared from the physical health consequences of COVID-19, recent data reveals the psychological and emotional impact that the pandemic has had on young people in our community is significant.
As many schools across the nation opted for virtual learning across 2020, social activities for children and teens came to a screeching halt. Many monumental adolescent social experiences disappeared across the past year, from sports and afterschool activities, to school dances and sleepovers..
The result: sharp increases in psychological conditions including major depression, generalized anxiety disorder, adjustment disorder, self-harm, substance abuse, overdoses, OCD, ADHD, and tic disorders.
According to FAIR Health, mental health claims among individuals aged 13-18 nearly doubled in 2020 compared to 2019. Anxiety, depression and adjustment disorders surfaced as the three most common conditions facing 13- to 22-year-olds, with rates skyrocketing in the spring of 2020. The claims increased 80% to 90% year over year among 13- to 18-year-olds and 45% to 65% for the 19-22 cohort.
This analysis came from FAIR Health’s database of more than 32 billion claims records from private health insurers. Above-and-beyond the scientific research, appointments for mental health sessions for teens at The Women’s Center has skyrocketed.
The increase in social isolation, financial instabilities, and infection-related fears, combined with the everyday struggles of teenage life, has resulted in a mental health crisis for young adults.
The Women’s Center has been serving the local community for over 45 years. In 2020, The Women’s Center provided over 250 adolescents with approximately 2,400 effective and affordable mental health counseling sessions, with over 75% of clients experiencing improved mental health. We know the need for these services in our community is greater than these numbers. To support the local Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. community through this difficult time, The Women’s Center recently announced the expansion of our adolescent services via our Teen Resiliency Program.
CEO and Executive Director Rachna Singal Krishnan described The Center’s goals for this new program, “Our vision is to be able to hire a dedicated therapist and program coordinator. The role of the therapist is easy to understand, but to have a program coordinator who can work with parents and pediatricians in the community to ensure that teenagers at risk receive early intervention and the holistic support they need is critical to really addressing adolescent mental health challenges.”
With the support from generous funders like Fran Craig, founder of Unanet, we are excited to move forward with this mission.