|LETTER TO EDITOR
|Year : 2022 | Volume
| Issue : 1 | Page : 68-70
Resilience building to combat COVID-19 stress in adolescents
Swapnajeet Sahoo1, Amog Shahane2, Satish Shahane2
1 Department of Psychiatry, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India
2 Department of Pediatrics, Saanvi Children Hospital, Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
|Date of Submission||22-Jun-2021|
|Date of Decision||12-Jul-2021|
|Date of Acceptance||16-Jul-2021|
|Date of Web Publication||13-Aug-2022|
Dr. Swapnajeet Sahoo
Department of Psychiatry, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh - 160 012
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Sahoo S, Shahane A, Shahane S. Resilience building to combat COVID-19 stress in adolescents. J Mental Health Hum Behav 2022;27:68-70
|How to cite this URL:|
Sahoo S, Shahane A, Shahane S. Resilience building to combat COVID-19 stress in adolescents. J Mental Health Hum Behav [serial online] 2022 [cited 2023 Jun 4];27:68-70. Available from: https://www.jmhhb.org/text.asp?2022/27/1/68/353751
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic seems to be unending, and individuals of all age groups have been significantly affected. Adolescents have also faced the brunt of the COVID-19, and several studies have reported significant anxiety, stress, psychosomatic complaints, and behavioral issues in this age group during the ongoing pandemic. The existing literature on the impact of COVID-19 on adolescents had found three broad sources of stress, i.e., (a) fear of COVID-19 infection,, (b) extensive homebound due to lockdown,, and (c) online classes., Further, the ongoing pandemic had resulted in the loss of many lives, and many adolescents/children had become orphaned. In this regard, it is essential to focus on developing life skills and resilience in this vulnerable population to combat stress and prevent subsequent psychological morbidities.
Resilience has been defined as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or even significant sources of stress like family or relationship problems, serious health problems, or financial stressors. In simpler words, it can be defined in terms of an individual's capacity to adapt to the changes and stressful events, the process they go through, and the outcome. An individual with good resilience has positive and beneficial outcomes resulting from navigating through stressful events. Resilience building during the adolescence period is essential as it is the formative years of life and forms the foundation of future life. Resilience building means fostering adolescents' capacity, flexibility, and coping strategies as they face various life stresses.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, resilience building in the adolescents can be done by educating the adolescent to recognize one's anxiety as normal, promoting discussion about one's fears with parents and elders, creating healthy distractions from COVID-related news and reports, staying calm and strengthening bonding with family members, and maintaining a daily healthy active routine. Parents should understand the normative development of their adolescents at home, should respect autonomy and privacy and educate them, listen to their concerns actively, allow them to self-formulate routines (healthy eating, adequate exercise and sleep, limiting screen time and social media, taking part in household responsibilities, etc.), and involve the teens in decision-making/planning. Having periodic fun activities among family members also adds bonding which in turn boosts positive youth development. At the same time, there is also a need to identify early red flag signs in adolescents (such as drug abuse, suicidal behavior, change in behavior and interests over 2 or more weeks, and staying less active and silent). These can be regarded as adolescent wellness toolbox [Box 1].
Resilience building during COVID time is more essential and needs to be more focused due to the multitude of stressors in the social milieu as well as in the internal “psyche” milieu. Social milieu stressors such as fear of loss of lives of near and dear ones, loss of social support and peer groups, staying restricted at home due to lockdown and unable to pursue outdoor hobbies, fear and uncertainty of future prospects related to career, and stress of online assignments and classes. Internal milieu stressors include grief due to loss of family and friends due to COVID, loss of self-esteem, and anxiety related to COVID situation in the environment and hopelessness about near improvement of the COVID situation, etc. All these act as significant stressors on the young budding minds of the adolescents, which are quite different from general day-to-day stress/hassles during pre-COVID era. Therefore, resilience building needs to be stressed upon in the school and college curriculum so as to prepare the adolescents to face the ongoing adversities.,
There have been suggested few ways to teach resilience to teens and children during the COVID era. These include (1) maintaining hope that things will get better eventually; (2) developing optimistic outlook to handle negative emotions and teaching them healthy coping skills such as talking with friends, engaging in creative artworks, and indoor activities; (3) encouraging critical thinking to solve problems and to accept the new change in life scenarios; and (4) encouraging physical activity at home (such as running around home and doing household chores).
In this regard, life skills development had been advocated. Life skills help the adolescents in making informed decisions, communicating effectively, and developing adaptive coping skills. These are integral in preparing a growing adolescent for a healthy productive life. The core life skills which should be enhanced during adolescence can be divided into three main types. These are (1) life skills for self-understanding and self-management, (2) life skills from knowing and living with others, and (3) life skills for dealing with issues and problems.
Life skills for self-understanding and self-management include focusing on enhancement of self-esteem, developing self-awareness of own internal states (mood and feelings) and of own behavior and attitudes, being assertive for right things and standing up for them while remaining conscious about the right of others, and using adaptive coping skills to combat stress. Some of the life skills for living in harmony with others are effective communication, having healthy interpersonal relationships, inculcating empathic listening to others, and helping in conflict resolution. All these are essential to eliminate discord and harmony which further enhances one's capacity to combat stress better. Developing skills of critical thinking; creative thinking to produce something novel, useful, and unique; taking part in decision-making by utilizing all available options; and developing healthy problem-solving strategies are an integral part of life skills needed for dealing with day-to-day problems. Setting up subgoals and trying to work on them by staying motivated and dedicated can help the growing minds of the adolescents for good character formation. These life skills have now become a part of college educational programs to effectively help youth face challenging situations.
A systematic review of 25 articles published on life skills education in adolescents revealed significant differences in life skills education of developed and developing countries, with the majority of developing countries' life skills programs lacking systematic implementation, evaluation, and monitoring. In this regard, more focus needs to be given for developing sustainable life skills programs, and policymakers/administrators should take appropriate steps for implementation of the same.
In light of the ongoing severe stress of COVID-19, resilience building by enhancing life skills in adolescents can prove to be a preventive strategy to reduce future mental health morbidities in this vulnerable population. Strengthening resilience is the need of the hour, which can help the 21st-century youth achieve their goals despite the ongoing evitable stress of COVID-19, which had affected different domains of life.
Financial support and sponsorship
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
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