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Dual Diagnosis

Considerations for Teen Dual Diagnosis Treatment Amid COVID-19

The world has been changing around us. Many of our socialization and recreational activities have been halted, and our freedom to move about our cities as we please has been reduced. Along with reducing freedom and autonomy stemming from social distancing measures to control the virus, there is a potential increase in mental health problems. Those impacted by COVID-19 disruptions are at risk of experiencing more depression, anxiety, and substance abuse problems.

What Is Teen Dual Diagnosis?

When mental health disorders are accompanied by substance abuse, it is known as a dual diagnosis situation. It is often the case that a teen who struggles with mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety, will begin to use substances as a means of escaping negative feelings.

It is also the case that the use of drugs and alcohol – while possibly providing a short relief – actually contributes to an increase in mental health symptoms. Symptoms and substances work together in making the situation worse. Teen dual diagnosis treatment for such co-occurring disorders requires a unique approach.

Teen Substance Abuse Risks Related to COVID-19

Substance abuse is always a risky business. During the pandemic, it is even more so. The coronavirus is highly contagious, and it tends to attack a person’s ability to breathe. Many types of drugs also decrease the ability to take in a good, healthy breath. When the effects of the virus are added to the drugs’ effects, chances of survival can be decreased. Substances that are well known to decrease lung function and capacity include:

    • Opioids
    • Cocaine
    • Tobacco
    • Marijuana
    • Phencyclidine (PCP)
    • Methamphetamines

Teen Dual Diagnosis Treatment Is Essential

When the importance of social distancing to control the spread of the virus came to light, governments quickly decided what our country absolutely could not do without. Physical healthcare, food resources, and transportation were obvious choices. Mental health and substance abuse treatment support was placed at the top of the list of essential services.

Not only have mental health concerns been increasing over the past several years, but the impact of the virus on our society has directly contributed to increased reports of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. Mental health problems are difficult enough to deal with on their own.

When substance abuse is also present, treating the underlying mental health problems can become even more difficult. In the past, treatment providers would attempt to address the substance abuse problem before moving on to the addiction’s psychological sources. Currently, providers recognize that simultaneous treatment for both disorders produces the best outcome.

Treatment Procedures Have Changed

The model of treating both mental health and substance abuse disorder simultaneously persists through this pandemic. Due to the contagious nature of the virus, however, the way that such services are delivered has been adjusted. When choosing a teen dual diagnosis treatment center, be sure to ask about the procedures that have been adopted toward keeping your teen safe.

Telemental Health and Teletherapy

As soon as social distancing measures were hinted at by government officials, providers began actively preparing to deliver mental health treatment services through telemental health. Also known as teletherapy and telehealth, telemental health refers to remote appointments conducted by healthcare providers. This can include phone calls, video conferencing, and text messaging. Ensure that your selected provider employs the telehealth service mediums designed to keep your teen’s personal information safe and secure.

Social Distancing

Many teens enjoy participating in large group activities. The presence of COVID-19 in our country has put a damper on that pastime. Schools are busy placing desks six feet apart, concerts and ceremonies have been canceled, and parties have been postponed. Teens entering treatment are likely to notice a difference in how their support groups are run, as well. There are likely to be fewer participants in each group, and the gratification of giving peers a physical hug will need to be replaced with gestures of distanced appreciation.

Sanitation

Even with safety measures of keeping a distance from others, additional sanitation practices are being implemented within facilities. The coronavirus is thought to exist on a surface for some time after an exposed person has interacted with it. Treatment facility rooms will be kept tidier, frequent hand washing is required, and patients may be asked to help maintain clean rooms. On the plus side, these stringent hygiene procedures can provide a teen with great training toward keeping a more tidy dwelling in the future.

Regular Testing

Teen dual diagnosis treatment programs often include regular drug testing as part of the recovery process. During these times, most are also offering support for the testing of COVID-19. Any time space is shared, such as in a treatment center, there is a risk of spreading the virus from person to person.

Fortunately, as our knowledge of the virus has increased, the availability of screening tests has also increased. If a facility detects coronavirus, or if a patient exhibits symptoms associated with the virus, programs need to have a plan in place. Treatment programs may have access to these virus tests on campus or have a system for transporting clients to a nearby testing facility.

Visitations

One of the most difficult aspects of entering a teen dual diagnosis treatment facility during COVID-19 has to do with the ability to visit with loved ones. Each time that a new person is introduced into the facility, the risk of potential cross-contamination is increased. By this time, many of the social distancing regulations which prohibited all visitations have been relaxed across the nation.

Rather than barring all outside contact, treatment facilities move ahead with allowing limited and safely distanced interactions. To whatever extent possible, parents, siblings, and other family members in a teen’s treatment program are an important aspect of a successful outcome.

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Mental Health

Simple Ways to Nurture Teens’ Mental Wellness During Quarantine

At first, being able to skip going to classes and avoid family gatherings may have sounded like a perfect teenage mental wellness getaway. Then, as time under quarantine and social distancing guidelines wear on, what started out as a vacation can start to feel like a prison sentence.

Not going to class can also mean not getting to experience sporting events, dances, or even a graduation ceremony. Not being able to leave the house can mean not getting to see any of your friends, and can result in an excessive amount of time spent holed up in a room. All the while, there is also a looming uncertainty of what the future will look like now that COVID-19 has entered the scene.

Experts are beginning to warn society about the stress that this social shutdown can have on teenagers. Teenagers are at a vital point in their life development. Teen years are spent finding out what life as an adult is going to consist of, and the current state of the world has spiraled that exploration of the future in an entirely new direction.

The world that teenagers of today are facing will be much different from the one that generations before were eased into, and no one is able to assure them of what to expect. This insecurity about the future can mean added stress on the developing teenage psyche, and requires that teens – and society at large – get creative with their self-care.

Boost Mental Wellness Through Exercise

Being socially distanced doesn’t mean that you can’t get your exercise. Staying active is good for the brain, good for the mood, and good for the body. Physical activity can provide a break from mental tasks, allowing you to come back to a problem with renewed focus. It boosts your endorphins, which are a feel-good, natural, chemical.

These endorphins make it harder to feel negative feelings such as depression and anxiety while your blood is busy pumping them throughout your body. The physical actions of exercise increase circulation, build muscle tone, and can contribute to a better sense of self-esteem and improved body image.

Engage in Backyard Activities

If you are lucky enough to have a swimming pool or a trampoline in your backyard, your access to outdoor physical activity is set. For others, setting up a makeshift basketball court on the patio or stringing a volleyball net across the lawn may do the trick. Don’t forget that projects like building a treehouse or hoeing up the ground for a garden count as physical exercise, too.

Participate in Responsible Group Activities

While you can’t yet hit the gym for your workout needs, there are other ways to experience that camaraderie of group exercise while maintaining social distancing. Some fitness facilities have moved their classes online, meaning that you can keep both your exercise routine and your group support going from the comfort of home. There is also the opportunity to get friends and family involved in neighborhood exercise, which gets you out into the sunshine and ensures ample space for social distancing.

Stimulate Creative Thinking Skills

If you have ever sat around and daydreamed what it would be like to be the next Tony Hawk or what it would feel like to be a kid on four-wheeled roller skates in the 1950’s, now is the time to make those types of daydreams a reality. Local stores may be closed, but online sales are still in full swing. Get yourself that new skateboard, pair of roller skates, pogo stick, or unicycle, and turn your exercise routine into learning a new skill.

Stay Connected Through Virtual Interaction

If there is a silver lining to this shift into being a remote society, it is that there is no generation more prepared to do so than the current teenager population. While video chats and online banter cannot substitute for a warm hug from a friend, it can at least provide relief from feeling utterly socially isolated from peers. Social connection is one of the best safeguards against the development and exacerbation of many mental health disorders, and can even contribute to better physical health.

Vlogs and Blogs

Being stuck at home means that a good amount of time can be spent browsing the Internet, searching out topics and people whom you really connect with. Vlogging platforms like YouTube have grown exponentially in popularity over the years, providing a smorgasbord of opportunity to connect with others. If video posts aren’t your thing, opportunities to express your individuality through text exist, as well. Documenting and sharing your experiences with others during life in quarantine can be a great way of relieving some stress.

Video and Audio Chats

Gamers have known about the ease of online chat for decades. There are a myriad of digital programs which will allow you to stay in contact with your friends, even while you go about completing other tasks. Staying in connection with friends during your online classes can provide a sense of connection similar to what occurs in a classroom. Throw in a pair of wireless headphones, and you can even take your friends along with you while you move about the house.

Texts and Phone Calls

At the beginning of all of these virtual connection mediums was the good, old, telephone. Grandma may not be able to figure out how to connect over Zoom, but she can still provide support and love through a regular phone call. Many in the older generations have even adapted to utilizing text messages, sometimes with hilarious results.

Boost Mental Wellness Through More Laugher

When it comes to relieving stress and giving your mental wellness a boost, laughter can truly be the best medicine. If you need inspiration, the internet is ripe with memes, fail videos, and stand-up comedy routines. Whether you end up laughing by yourself, or sharing the funny with others, incorporating some laughing time into your daily routine will work wonders for your mood.

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Mental Health

Quaranteenager’s Guide to Overcoming Anxiety and Fears

Anxiety is a very useful human function. It is useful, that is, if the tools for overcoming anxiety are being used in the way that nature intended. The feeling of anxiety is actually the human flight-or-fight response to a dangerous situation. This survival response helps us to run quickly away from a predator, or to stand our ground and call upon superhuman strength to ward off an attacker. It is the body’s way of getting us geared up for action.

The problem with anxiety arises when our readiness for survival action is cued up, but there is no actual imminent danger. These leaves all of those pent-up levels of fight-or-flight hormone with no opportunity to be expended. Our bodies are not designed to be in a constant state of such alertness. Thus, when there is actually no physical danger, the result of staying so keyed up can mean development of a mental disorder.

Sources of Stress, Anxiety and Fears

There are always things that people can find to be anxious about. For teenagers, those common anxieties often include worries about school grades, worries about peer relationships, and worries about making a college or career choice after graduation. During this COVID-19 pandemic, these types of worries have intensified.

The ability to successfully complete school, at all, may be uncertain. Relationships have almost exclusively been moved to digital formats, which can make it harder to communicate in a way that produces desired results. College and career plans are up in the air, as society waits on how to operate in the months and years ahead.

Added to all of this is the worry that friends and family may become infected by the virus. Something that all of these anxieties have in common is that they are focused on an event that may – or may not – happen in the future. For example:

    • You may have trouble completing school, or you may end up passing your classes with high scores.
    • Your relationships may suffer during social distancing, but you may also find that your friends like your digital interactions.
    • You may not be able to enter college or start that job you were planning for, or you may end up having an ideal job fall into your lap.
    • You and your family may or may not become ill from the virus.

Anxiety is a biological-based attempt at fortune telling. True to the flight-or-fight response, anxiety is preparing us for a perceived danger which it thinks might be about to occur. This danger may be real, or it may be a figment of our imagination.

Once something has actually happened – or not happened – anxiety disappears. The prediction of danger is no longer necessary in the face of factual occurrence, and anxiety fades to the background once the event has come to pass.

Tips for Overcoming Anxiety

Instead of waiting for events to actually play out, you can get a head start on overcoming anxiety by using some simple coping techniques. These techniques involve taking control of your thought process and letting your body know that it is fine to just chill out. Calming your fight-or-fight response in this way can actually help you to make better decisions toward creating a better future scenario than the one that is feared.

Shift Unhealthy Thinking Patterns

Since anxiety is rooted in worries about the future, thinking more about the actual present can be the remedy. When anxiety strikes, try taking a few minutes to consider the details of your current situation. If you are here reading this, chances are you’re not in any immediate danger of losing anything essential.

You are still enrolled in school, and your friends have not ghosted you. You are not currently hospitalized with the virus. Focusing on the reality of your experience in the moment can help to quiet the “what if” scenarios that an anxious mind can surface.

Talk It Out (With Yourself)

While there are jokes made about people who talk to themselves, the fact is that we all do it, all the time. The conversations that we have with ourselves within our brains is how we make decisions about navigating the world. The mental voice of anxiety can be loud, persistent and obnoxious. Taking charge of that nagging voice through asserting your own rational voice can help.

Try giving your anxiety a silly name. Then, as a controlled and mature adult, talk back to your anxiety as though it is a whiny, bratty child. As the mature voice, you know that this current situation won’t last forever, and that there are as many opportunities for good things to happen in the future as there are bad.

Indulge in Some Old-Fashioned Fun

Sometimes, your only chance for overcoming anxiety is to quiet your mind for awhile. When your mental health testing and self-talk therapies aren’t doing the trick, you can drown out fears and worries with a little indulgence in distraction by:

    • Playing your favorite video game.
    • Watching your favorite on-demand show.
    • Going outside for some exercise.
    • Focusing on some other activity that brings you pleasure.

While this won’t fix the problem of anxiety permanently, it will give you a mental break. Giving ourselves mental breaks are a good way to come back with renewed determination to subdue the anxiety monster.

Practice Relaxation Strategies

Because anxiety is connected to our physical response to danger, it can also be tackled from the outside. Using techniques to relax your muscle tension and heart rate, increased by your flight-or-fight response, can actually trick your mind into calming down. Try to help your body relax by taking a hot bath or shower, practicing some yoga and meditation, or listening to music.

If You Need Help, Don’t Be Afraid to Ask

If your best efforts at getting a handle on overcoming anxiety aren’t working, help is always available. Mental health providers are increasingly offering telehealth services. Finding a professional to talk with about overcoming anxiety can lead to the development of new skills and perspectives, and can help you to keep your cool during these challenging times.

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Mental Health Stress

How to Survive Teen Stress, Depression and Social Isolation

Teenagers are among the highest demographic group to experience mental health disorders. Surveys have shown that at least one in five – or 20% – of all teens suffer from a diagnosable mental health condition.

During this current time of COVID-19, teen mental health stability may be even more hard to come by. The best defenses against teen stress and mental illness are arming yourself with information, making adjustments where you can, and seeking help when you don’t know what to do.

Social Isolation Triggers of Teen Stress During COVID-19

While mental health concerns are always looming, the current pandemic has supplied some extra fuel for that potential fire. Personality factors, home life, disruptions to routine, and personal losses as a result of COVID-19 influence can all play a role in triggering unhealthy psychological responses to teen stress.

    • Personality and behavior: The effects that social distancing orders have on an individual are likely to vary with the person’s personality bend. Teens who are more introverted tend to have an easier time with a lack of socialization opportunities, while extroverted teens may feel trapped, depressed, and anxious without their typical outlets being available. If you are curious about whether you are an introvert or extrovert, you can get an idea by taking a free personality test.
    • Social isolation and connection: Human beings are creatures of habit. We find comfort in knowing what we are going to be doing from day to day. With all of the daily changes surrounding COVID-19, our routines have been disrupted multiple times, and the end of these changes is nowhere in sight. There is constant talk of more restrictions, less restrictions, getting back to work and school, and staying in place.
    • Life events and milestones: There are certain events that many teenagers anticipate as hallmarks of their high school years. There are proms and formals, shows to perform, and the capstone event of walking across the stage at graduation. This pandemic has disrupted all of those plans. In addition to having to establish new routines, teens may also be having to cope with disappointment surrounding the loss of important milestones.
    • Family functioning and resilience: The shelter-in-place orders have many of us spending more time with our immediate family. If the family is already on friendly terms, this can be a great opportunity to reconnect and spend some quality time together. If the family is not so prone to get along, being cooped up with each other for this amount of time can feel like a prison sentence. Patience for each other can grow short, and arguments can become more frequent.

Warning Signs and Risk Factors for Adolescent Emotional Distress

A sudden change in routines and habits can be stressful on everyone. We can expect to feel even more stress as everything slowly shifts into the “new normal” that we will eventually be living in. The following are some common signs that all of these changes are taking a toll on your mental health.

Teen Anxiety

Anxiety involves worry and fear about the future. Teens already have a lot on their plate when it comes to dealing with future unknowns, and the pandemic isn’t helping. Plans for the next school year are still up in the air, families are worried about finances, and career options after graduation may have been altered. While feeling some measure of anxiety over all of this can be considered normal, levels of anxiety which keep you from completing basic tasks or enjoying simple pleasures are cause for concern.

Teen Depression

Some feelings of sadness and loss are normal during this time of adjustment. Clinical depression occurs when those feelings don’t go away, and when they begin to rob you of the ability to find pleasure in anything. People who are depressed may not want to think about the future, and will lose interest in activities that were once enjoyed. In extreme cases, a depressed person may even think about ending it all through suicide.

Teen Substance Use and Abuse

There are a few factors which tend to contribute to the development of a substance abuse disorder. Existing mental health issues is one. Boredom is another. The conditions created by the social distancing orders can include an increase in both of these areas. If you throw in a chaotic home life, the temptation to escape through drugs or alcohol can be even more intense. As most former addicts can tell you, giving in to this temptation is never worth it.

Preventing and Preparing for a Teen Mental Health Crisis

While teen stress responses to our current circumstances can be extreme, there are healthy ways that we can take that edge off. Being proactive about your mental health can put you back in control of where your life is heading. The following are a few ways to take charge of the situation.

    • Create healthy and productive routines: During a time when the world has lost its daily routine, it is very important that you take charge in creating your own. In addition to setting up some daily rituals toward completing your school  or chore tasks, make sure to include some habits which bring you a sense of peace or comfort. Popular self-care routines include spending a few minutes a day in meditation, treating yourself to a long bath or shower, or setting a daily time to connect with friends.
    • Embrace technology: Young people are often chastised for how much they rely on the internet and social media. For once, they are being encouraged to use more of it. Use your technological expertise to create unique ways to connect with friends over virtual platforms, and share your knowledge with family members who may not have wanted to dive into the tech world before the pandemic. This might even be a great time to finally start up your own blog or channel.
    • Ask for help when/if/as needed: One of the most important skills in navigating life is knowing when we need to ask for help. In addition to an increase in services for many local agencies, there is also increased promotion of national mental health support services. Methods of receiving this type of support include phone calls, video chats, and texting. These types of services can be used while in crisis, and beforehand.
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Mental Health

Telemental Health: Bridging the Gap Between Care, Coronavirus

We are living in unprecedented times. A deadly pandemic has surfaced, the likes of which have not been experienced since the early 1900’s. The impact of this current pandemic has the potential to be even more devastating than the last, as the world is much more interconnected and interdependent than before.

On the other hand, the potential for people to receive applicable treatment for both the physical and psychological impact of this pandemic is in a much better place than in decades past. Thanks to the technological progress which has been made over the past several years, people are often no further from a phone call or video conference away from being able to consult with professionals regarding their concerns.

What Is Telemental Health?

Telehealth refers to any type of health service which is delivered via a medium other than face-to-face contact. It can include telephone calls, texts, video conference, and online interaction. Telemental health refers specifically to the ability to deliver and receive mental health support from a distance. It encompasses other, more familiar, terms such as telepsychiatry, telepsychology, and teletherapy.

Proponents for the widespread availability of telemental health services have long pointed to statistics which indicate that certain portions of the population are lacking in mental health support due to lack of access to physical mental health locations. Individuals who live in rural areas, those who suffer from mobility difficulties, and those who lack transportation and time are often unable to make the journey from their locations to a facility which provides quality mental health care.

The progress toward providing telemental health services has met with some resistance from regulating agencies. These types of agencies were constructed along with the growing popularity of mental health treatment from the mid 1900’s, and were charged with overseeing the requirements of mental health care providers to include best care practices for their patrons. Changes in these regulations have not quite kept pace with the growth of technology, leaving access to quality telehealth services in a gray area.

How Mental Health Care Rules Are Evolving for Coronavirus

With the coronavirus pandemic and associated social distancing guidelines arriving suddenly on the scene, regulators were compelled to take a closer look at the convenience of receiving therapy from a remote location. Data indicating that telemental health is similarly effective in treating a multitude of disorders was placed in the forefront, and privacy rights of patients and clients receiving remote care were scrutinized.

Similarly, insurance companies began to be pressured toward accepting claims for mental health services provided through such avenues. The result is a temporary lifting of former restrictions so that providers can deliver much needed therapy to those who are suffering from mental health symptoms while simultaneously heeding the call to avoid excessive social contact. There are many providers who hold out the hope that these current progressions in acceptance of telehealth as a viable treatment option will remain far into the future.

Telemental Health Services and Support

Telemental health services rely on the effectiveness of talk therapy toward treating mental health concerns and disorders. Talk therapy has been the go-to treatment since its early application by psychotherapy pioneers such as Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. It has been demonstrated as being effective with disorders ranging from anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, addiction, and personality disorders.

When it comes to deciding upon the right type of telemental health treatment for you, some insight into how you best learn and communicate can be helpful. If you are a visual person, support provided through video conference may be what provides you with the best outcome. An auditory person will tend to benefit most from sessions provided over phone. Someone who gains more from reading and writing is likely to find therapy bulletin boards and interactive journals useful.

Anxiety Treatment

Anxiety is already the most common disorder experienced in the country. With the stress of COVID-19 in play, there are even more reasons to feel anxious. Our health, finances, and future  plans are all at risk. Receiving telemental health support during this time can help you to examine your core values, reframe your fearful thoughts, and develop coping mechanisms to use when the anxiety levels are high.

Depression Treatment

Experiences of depression run a close second when it comes to prevalence of mental health disorder in America. While anxiety tends to focus on fear of the future, depression tends to focus on current and past situations. Many people are feeling the weight of our current crisis, yet are unable to engage in activities which might otherwise work to alleviate and distract from depressive thoughts and feelings.

Bipolar Disorder Treatment

A hallmark of bipolar disorder is that a person’s mood shifts from highs to lows. While largely thought to be due to a chemical fluctuation in the brain, moods can definitely be negatively and positively affected by situations and mindset. Talk therapy can assist in helping a person with bipolar disorder to learn to recognize the impending mood shifts, and mitigate the drastic responses and behaviors which often result.

Substance Abuse Treatment

Mental health disorders and tendency toward substance abuse are highly correlated. Mental health disorders can prompt a person to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol, and substance abuse can exacerbate pre-existing mental health conditions. With so many people stuck at home, and with idle time on their hands, even old habits of abusing drugs and alcohol may creep back in. Talking with a therapist can help to weigh the pros and cons of giving into the temptation to use substances, and can assist you in finding more healthy ways to cope with the stress and boredom.

Personality Disorders Treatment

Personality disorders are those which tend to influence a person’s entire approach and evaluation of life. One of the most diagnosed personality disorders is that of borderline personality disorder (BPD). Talk therapies have been shown to be extremely successful for those struggling with this disorder, as such therapy is focused on providing the client with new ideas and techniques for navigating life situations.

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Mental Health

Teen Mental Health and COVID-19: Strategies for Adjusting to a “New Normal”

You may have heard the phrase a “new normal” being applied to our current situation. What we consider to be normal has changed throughout time. During this COVID-19 outbreak, we are in a temporary state of new normality which involves a large amount of social distancing. Schools are closed, social activities are postponed, parents are home from work, and technology is being utilized more than ever before. These changes to our routine require that we adapt our behaviors, and find new ways to go about our daily lives.

Studies show that one out of every five teenagers struggles with mental illness. This time of change involving the risk of COVID-19 transmission and the social distancing measures can create the type of stress which has been linked to the development and increase of these disorders. The sooner that you recognize the signs of teen mental health distress in your own life, the sooner you can get a handle on them.

Anxiety Symptoms

Anxiety in teens occurs when our primitive flight-or-fight responses go into overdrive. While being able to defend ourselves from danger works well in a physical situation, this instinct doesn’t tend to work in our favor when it comes to psychological stress. Worry about what dangers might happen in the future can cause the body to stay in a constant state of alert, resulting in physical symptoms such as muscle tension, headaches, elevated heart rate, and lowered immune system.

Depression Symptoms

Teens suffering from depression tend to lose any vision of a hopeful future. It may seem like this current situation will never end, or that the emergency orders surrounding social distancing have ruined some of your plans and dreams for good. A person with depression is likely to notice a lack of interest in activities that were once enjoyed, and may be more prone toward crying spells or anger outbursts. There may be less desire to interact with others, and more desire to just stay in bed and sleep.

Psychosis Symptoms

Psychosis refers to a tendency to see, hear, think, or believe things that most people find to be strange or bizarre. During high times of stress, there is a risk that our brains will attempt to make sense of things through creating an alternative reality. While escaping reality for a bit through daydreaming, watching television, or playing games can be healthy, a psychosis can take over a person’s entire life. A person with psychosis may become paranoid or obsessed with odd activities, and may begin to hear and see things that are not observable by others. The use of illegal drugs can increase the risk of developing psychosis.

Five Teen Mental Health Strategies for Adjusting to a “New Normal”

If you do notice that you are beginning to experience signs of teen mental health distress, there are steps that you can take to lessen their effects. These overall strategies involve being kind to yourself, staying engaged in activities you enjoy, and asking for help if necessary.

1. Create a Healthy and Productive Routine

You’ve spent many years getting to a place of having your life routine set up in a way that has worked for you. Now, suddenly, that routine has been disrupted.  The fact that it is a temporary change may even mean that, as soon as you get on top of it, it will be changing, again. Just as your previous way of life wasn’t set up in a day, these new habits will take time to build, as well. This type of rapid change can stress out even the most capable of adults. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you find that you struggle to stay on top of things.

2. Do What You Can and Let Go of the Rest

This time of rapid change can be particularly stressful for those who are still in school. Public school systems are scurrying to put procedures in place to support online learning, and many of these schools found themselves utterly unprepared for the task. Many teachers are having a hard time complying with the requirements of their job to provide you with an education, which makes the student job harder. While this may go on until the end of the semester, this won’t go on for the rest of your life. Complete what tasks you are able, and put the rest on hold.

3. Find Creative Ways to Connect (Virtually) With Family and Friends

Teens are already ahead of the game when it comes to technology. This is definitely a benefit during a time where social activities are being confined to the Internet. While you aren’t able to go to your usual hangout spots, or spend a fun evening with extended family, you can use this time as an opportunity to get everyone together through video and social media. Try engaging friends in multiplayer games. Have a video sleepover, complete with simultaneous binge watching of your favorite shows. Teach grandma and grandpa how to use a video chat app. Staying social can be a good defense against stress.

4. Practice Self-Care and Mindfulness

Being cooped up in the house with people for too long can be stressful on even the best of relationships. During this time of uncertainty and change, the possibility of getting on each others’ nerves is even higher. If you notice that you are starting to lose patience with others during your household interactions, take it as a sign that you might need some private time to yourself. Find a quiet place to relax, meditate, or engage in some other form of self-care.

5. Utilize Teen Mental Health Support Services

Teen mental health services and professionals have been deemed as essential workers during this stressful time. Without the ability to meet for sessions in person, many local and national organizations have developed ways to support clients through telephone and video conference. If you or someone you know doesn’t already have a teen mental health team, contact the SAMHSA Treatment Referral Helpline (1-800-662-HELP) to be linked to a local area teen mental health provider.