COVID-19 increasing strain on mental health

(KFOR/NBC News)  As surging coronavirus cases prompt extended virtual learning, mental health experts report adolescents and teens are experiencing higher than normal depression or feelings of self-harm.

“I did not expect to see teenagers, especially older teenagers, suffer so much like how I’ve seen,” said Oklahoma City-based licensed professional counselor Katie Evans.

Since the pandemic began, she and her peers have seen a sharp increase in depression in adolescents and teens.

“We all have gotten so many referrals the past few months,” Evans said. “There are so many people who are wanting services right now, it’s so hard to find someone with an opening.”

They’re finding young people are suffering from a general sense of instability this year, including the political and social climate, and especially due to coronavirus. The pandemic is particularly difficult for young people because of what Rebecca Hubbard with Mental Health Association Oklahoma called “systematic” isolation during a significant phase of development.

“Peers are who they look to develop their identity, to create a connection to others, to figure out where they stand in the world,” Hubbard said.

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