By Leslie Billinton/Special to The News
In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, we are constantly being bombarded with information and changes.
As a society, we are attempting to cope with changes to our way of life and adjust our activities in response.
All of these challenges provoke anxiety, fear of the unknown, and stress – for adults, children, and youth alike.
Children look to the significant adults in their life for support.
However, prior to the pandemic, youth were exploring their independence and creating their own social networks.
They were developing skills, forming beliefs, and self-perceptions that will influence how they interact with the world.
The connections made during this time are crucial in defining the adults they will become.
Virtual interactions have always been a part of this generation of young adults’ social lives.
However, as the isolation has progressed, youth may be starting to realize how much they value the face-to-face interactions.
The need for physical connection, warmth, acceptance, and communication with ones peers and/or supportive networks are associated with positive outcomes.
The idea of long-term social distancing seems more daunting than before.
For some youth, it may build connections, as more people understand the isolation they felt prior to the pandemic.
For others, it may prompt more risk-taking behaviours in order to have the physical contact they need.
Vulnerable and marginalized youth are particularly susceptible to the impacts of COVID-19.
With the closing of schools, changes to family routines, precarious or unsafe housing, and lost job opportunities many young adults live in environments that negatively influence their mental and physical health.
Prior to the pandemic supports would have been accessed outside of family networks.
Since the pandemic began, youth/young adults may be experiencing limited privacy and may feel unable to access resources and supports.
Additionally, individuals struggling with mental health and addiction may feel unable to access supports without creating more risks to their safety.
This increases feelings of exclusion, marginalization, and social isolation.
The reactions of the adults in their lives and networks influences the manner in which young adults respond to big life changes and world events. It is key for those adults to be respectful and encourage open, honest conversations.
1. Choose to be mindful of your expressions, thoughts, and behaviours to create safe spaces for conversation
2. Model how to manage stress through conversation and healthy behaviour
3. Seek help for yourself if you are feeling overwhelmed or uncertain of how to support a youth/young adult in your life.
Supporting our youth builds resilience, supports recovery for communities, and empowers youth to seek solutions now and for the future.
Provide resources and opportunities to access supports. Here’s a few links that might be helpful.
Leslie Billinton is a public health nurse and member of the Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Katzie Comunity Network.
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