As more Coloradans have resumed social activities, some families, especially those with high-risk individuals, have continued to stay isolated. Experts say adolescents in those situations may be suffering from increased loneliness, depression, and other mental health concerns.
“When the restrictions lifted, I saw some of our teenagers do better because they were able to open up and do some things, but our ones that were higher risk or sticking to a stricter quarantine, they felt worse,” said licensed clinical child psychologist Lindsey Einhorn.
One of Einhorn’s patients at Parker Pediatrics,15-year-old Eva, is trying to be more cautious because her mom has a lung condition. She said she found it frustrating and depressing to scroll through social media and see her friends returning to more normal activities.
“I just felt like everything was crashing down on just me. I felt like I was the only one going through this,” Eva said.
Einhorn says teenagers are missing two of their biggest social outlets right now: school and recreational activities.
“I think finding ways to get kids out and and about in a safe way (is important),” said Einhorn.
Eva said just having someone to talk to helped her. During the summer months, and with uncertainty about the upcoming school year, it’s important to make sure young people still have access to mental health resources.
Rick Padilla, suicide prevention manager for the city of Denver, lost his 15-year-old son to suicide 16 months ago. He worries about kids not having their normal support systems if they’re not in school this year.
"We have to collectively look at this issue because a lot of these kids are going to be doing remote learning,” said Padilla.
He added that parents need to recognize when what may seem like typical teenage angst is a sign of something more serious.
He encourages families to pursue community resources, like Let’s Talk Colorado, to learn about warning signs and find help.