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Therapist: Teenagers particularly affected by social isolation

By 
Sam Klomhaus — Enterprise Staff Writer
Friday, April 17, 2020
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365体育网址Being a teenager is hard enough when there isn’t a pandemic.

365体育网址With everyone cooped up after Gov. Bullock’s stay at home order, managing the social isolation can be incredibly challenging for families with children, according to L’esprit Outpatient Therapist and Chief Operations Officer Maria Mulvaugh.

Social isolation can exacerbate loneliness, fear, anxiety and depression for everyone, Mulvaugh said, which can lead to increases in suicidal ideation, acute stress disorder and PTSD.

365体育网址The pandemic and social isolation can impact all of us, Mulvaugh said, but teenagers could be  especially affected.

“Teenagers in particular may struggle due to the isolation, as social development at this stage relies heavily on interaction with peers,” Mulvaugh said.

365体育网址Mulvaugh said parents should focus on the fact that the pandemic will end at some point and try to prepare their children for that eventuality.

365体育网址“Some students might fare better, but the concern is for those who are really struggling with the isolation,” Mulvaugh said.

365体育网址In the meantime, one way parents and families can support kids during the pandemic is by communicating about how the coronavirus is affecting things and why certain measures have been taken, Mulvaugh said, and give them space to ask questions and validate their concerns.

Mulvaugh said it’s important to maintain a consistent routine with hygiene patterns, sleep schedules and school work, while allowing some freedom of choice within the structure to give kids a sense of control over their days.

Using technology to connect with peers and family can be helpful, Mulvaugh said, as long as there isn’t too much time spent on social media, which should be balanced out with activities that don’t involve screens.

Mulvaugh also said kids should try to be active in order to expend energy and relax, and try learning new skills as a way of focusing energy in a positive direction.

Children and teens are also missing out on traditions and milestones because of the pandemic, Mulvaugh said. 

It’s helpful for parents to empathize and acknowledge their children may be experiencing sadness, anger, fear, or disappointment while grieving the loss, she said. 

365体育网址This is a great opportunity to work with children to brainstorm alternative solutions, Mulvaugh said.

365体育网址Little things like a healthy diet can make a big difference, Mulvaugh said, and families should take advantage of resources like the Livingston Food Resource Center, Livingston School District and RISE that are providing meals for kids.

The local Rise youth crisis line can be reached at (406) 223-5433 for texts and calls. Mental health services for youth and families are available at L’esprit, (406) 222-7641 or . The national crisis text line is 741741, and the National Suicide Prevention Helpline is 1-800-273-8255.

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