Before the pandemic, the National Alliance for Mental Illness reported that approximately 20% of adolescent children suffer from a mental health condition (Dallas, 2020). The COVID pandemic has added immeasurable stress and disruption to the lives of children and their family systems. More recent surveys report that as many as thirty-three percent of adolescents report feeling unhappy or depressed in recent months (Goldberg, E., Nov 13, 2020). A study in the Netherlands found that adolescents’ mental health emergency room visits have increased over thirty percent compared to 2019 (Lee et al., 2020). Warning signs of anxiety and depression include severe risk-taking behavior, significant weight loss, excessive use of drugs or alcohol, and dramatic mood changes. (Goldberg, E., Nov 13, 2020)

The pandemic has come at a point in their lives when adolescents traditionally become more independent. At this stage in maturation, they usually would be building relationships outside the family from which they draw meaning and values. Adolescence is a time of intense exploration of goals, values, and beliefs. The pandemic’s isolation has stunted their ability to continue to develop themselves apart from their families, bringing stress, anxiety, and depression. 

My suggestion is to put a system in place that allows your teen to isolate in community. You may be thinking, how is that possible. The point of isolation is separation, so how does one isolate in community? First, let us consider that we were not made to be alone. God knew Adam needed to relate with Him as well as with other humans. Being in community is God’s wisdom; it was not based on Adam asking for a BFF. 

Genesis 2:18 (NIV) The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

God did not design us to be alone. Consider working with your teen to form a life team of two or three other teens. Selecting the right kids to be part of this support group should be based on personality fit, level of maturity, and safety. Let me clarify; I am not suggesting that we disregard the directive to isolate and to protect ourselves and others. We must follow the guidelines established by the local state government.  However, given the devastating effects of isolation and their developmental need for community, your teen must have a strong support group. Life teams can meet over video. In certain circumstances, the life team may feel comfortable meeting in person. Life Team guidelines may include meeting outdoors, wearing masks, and requiring members to sit out during periods when their risk level is elevated. The individuals invited into this group need to influence your child positively and have the maturity to be supportive.  I lead a junior high boys life group, which has continued to meet in person through the pandemic. The boys have supported each other during this anxious and stressful period of life. We also trust each other to conduct ourselves when away from the group to reduce risk and maintain health for themselves and the group. Ultimately, you will have to decide what you are comfortable with and what works for your teen. A healthy life team is an integral part of a plan for resilience in the face of the continuing pandemic. 

Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.


Dallas, M. (2020, May 5). Children’s mental health may be affected by pandemic; treatment can help.  Rome News-Tribute.

Goldberg, E. (Nov 13, 2020). Teens in covid isolation: ‘I felt like I was suffocating’. New York Times. 

Lee, R. T., Bitsko, R. H., Radhakrishnan, L., Martinez, P., Njai, R., and Holland, K.M. (2020) Mental health emergency department visits among children aged less than eighteen years during the COVID 19 pandemic – United States. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 69(45). 1675-1680.



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