With many young people facing challenges to their mental well-being in the face of anxiety, stress, and uncertainty brought on by Covid-19, this creates an opportunity to both talk about and address mental health among the young people and adults. Covid-19 exposed how society has for years ignored and hidden the effects of mental health distress, when we lay the foundations for our lifelong cognitive and learning ability, our emotional intelligence and our resilience in the face of stress. In addition, covid-19 has widened the inequality gap threatening the well-being of youth in poverty and minority groups.
This highlights just how vulnerable young people are; Covid-19 has turned their lives upside down, disrupting comforting and familiar patterns like going to school and playing outdoors. Lockdown has deprived them of the social and peer connections that are crucial at this time of life. Many are affected by the trauma of violence and abuse in the family as the lockdown has stranded them behind closed doors without the support they would normally find in school, youth interventions and community. These effects add to an already higher suicide rate among youth as many young people do not seek help due to stigma and discrimination around abuse and mental health distress.
Hence, mental health needs the investment it deserves, by expanding mental health services and support for young people in community and schools, and promoting safe parenting to ensure that children from vulnerable conditions get the support and protection they need at home. The focus needs to be on training and education for working with youth in the face of anxiety, stress, depression, or uncertainty by creating activities for social connection through peer-to-peer support, and shifting mental health from being stigmatised to providing an understanding and care to normalise the act of seeking help for mental health, open conversations, address stigma and support young people.