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The forced confinement and the closure of spaces to socialize, as a consequence of the measures adopted to deal with the pandemic, strongly impacted the daily life of many adolescents. According to the experts, the effects are increasingly notable: psychiatric and psychological consultations have increased steadily in this group, in addition to the presence of mood and behavior disorders as the most recurrent causes, including in extreme cases the use of psychedelic drugs to address mental health as an escape route.
This year, since the second quarantine, parents have expressed that young people are less communicative. They are in a bad mood, they spend more time locked in their rooms and they express themselves less”. This could describe the change that has been seen in the behavior of young people in recent months. It is not an isolated case.
Particularly since months ago, when the debate began on the possibility of returning to face-to-face classes, parents and legal representatives raised their voices to alert what they were seeing happen in front of their eyes: the mental health of adolescents, after the year of the health emergency, it was deteriorating.
Several countries surveyed parents and caregivers to find out if they detected changes in behavior or if they knew of any use of psychedelics and mental health drugs in minors. And the results were impressive: 73% reported that their children were more demanding and 60% rated them as more emotionally reactive.
These figures have been pushed by a difficult context for this group. In the case of adolescents, the measures adopted to counteract the effects of the pandemic had a significant impact on their daily lives. Their school, social and family life; since they were literally limited to four walls. They were unable to see friends and develop bonds essential for their development, causing problems with anxiety, depression, and other disorders that lead them to use unhealthy escape routes.
According to the latest Unicef report on the State of the World’s Children, published last October, at least one in seven children has been affected by quarantine worldwide, while more than 1.5 billion have suffered. some loss in their education.
What do the specialists say?
Specialists can confirm that the effects of confinement on the mental health of young people and on the use of psychedelic substances are already plausible. In addition to the fact that consultations with therapists increased, many say that this is basically the cause, it has to do with the fact that adolescence and childhood are stages in which individuals have the natural need to socialize with other people, the peer group it’s super important.
The long lockdown
In terms of development, school attendance is key for adolescence. It is in schools where adolescents, in addition to advancing academically, share with their peers and learn social tools.
But, is not a secret to anyone that the days passed, the infections increased in the territory, and the weeks of waiting turned into months, regarding the return to school. It is essential to return to classes, because in addition to being the appropriate space to socialize, it is the place where mental pathologies and significant changes in the mood of students are investigated, in addition to being easier to detect and deprive the use of psychedelic substances.
It is essential that education services be resumed in person so that children and adolescents can interact. At the same time, it is very important that mental health services are also available at all times for any type of assistance and eventuality, both in schools and in the health network, so that risks, symptoms, anxiety, or depression in this population of young people, in order to treat them in a timely and pertinent manner
The president of the College of Psychologists and Psychologists of Chile highlights that “it is no secret to anyone that the mental health of all and more than all young people is affected and is what is expected in a crisis of this type; there are a series of associated symptoms because you are a little more anxious, worried about a situation that produces great uncertainty in the future.
In this scenario, the specialists warned that parents and legal representatives must be vigilant in order to detect when a professional in the area of mental health should be consulted.
An important variable in these cases is time, that is, if the symptoms persist for a long time, at least one or two months and there is a concern, a specialist should be consulted. Another key element is the intensity of these. Or if, for example, the adolescent must go to school and there is no case that he wants to return, in addition, to this symptomatology, it is necessary to consult. The worst thing that can happen is consulting others and that’s not bad, it’s about preventing major problems.
Some children and adolescents, however, prefer online classes, since they have become accustomed to not socializing, and at the same time, they avoid facing social pressures or ridicule and insults from other classmates in this place.
The cost of technology in mental health management
Technology was key to being able to maintain communication during the pandemic. The classes, the work and even the social life of a lot, since it turned to the screens. In this sense, for children and adolescents, social networks have become the meeting point with their friends. But, in turn, is a double-edged sword for the freedom to search for inappropriate content.
What got worse was eating disorders, which were like a boom during the pandemic and have remained very high. What seems to have to do with it is the constant contact with social networks and the screen, where there is an idealization of bodies that are often not even real and in adolescence, it is a bit difficult to maintain self-esteem, since you do not control what you’re watching.
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