Your teen’s mental health could be affected by social distancing

As people around the world try to cope with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), which has infected 7.6 million people, experts are now pointing at another effect which many have not considered.

Teens may suffer more than most during this time, at least mentally, being removed from physical encounters with their peers.

The lack of face-to-face interaction may impact their mental health and growth, as social distancing measures are maintained, according to an opinion piece in the Lancet Child and Adolescent Health journal.

The researchers say between 10 and 24 years is a vital period for brain development and developing a sense of self. To that end, restricted social interactions could have negative long-term impacts.

“Even if physical distancing measures are temporary, several months represents a large proportion of a young person’s life.”

– Lead author Sarah-Jayne Blakemore of the University of Cambridge’s Department of Psychology

Most countries around the world had introduced stay-at-home orders and other lockdown measures to limit contact and the potential spread of the virus that has killed 426 thousand people.

It is not yet clear if the increasing use of digital technology to stay connected will lessen the negative impact, added co-author Livia Tomova of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

However, she said young people in families with positive relationships may be less affected.