By Agiina Podlasek, CCPRD Outreach Worker and Derek Sullivan, CCPRD Project Associate
Quarantine has gone on longer than most people have expected and despite the vaccine, COVID-19 is going to continue to affect people’s lives and livelihoods - especially their mental health.
Due to the pandemic and business closures, many people have lost their jobs, houses, and other vital resources to maintaining a healthy life. In addition, many people are experiencing a sense of disconnection from family, friends, community, and social organizations. Youth can be especially vulnerable since their main social groups are friends (usually classmates) and family. Going through this young and alone can be especially difficult. However, with the start of the new year, it is important to remember the key to mental health: maintaining connections. Connecting with others can help someone get support on any issues they have as well as inspire people to live their best lives. Let's look at a few ways youth can stay connected throughout this COVID-impacted winter.
One major way youth can connect is meeting in-person while following social distancing guidelines and wearing face masks. Many families have taken on the tradition of marking occasions, like a birthday, by driving by the home while staying in their car, and honking horns while holding up signs. People can also stay connected by visiting their neighbors or their loved-ones on porches or outside their apartment complexes to meet up for a cup of coffee or tea.
Another way people can meet is with virtual video calls including Zoom, Google Meet, Facebook Messenger, and even sites like Meetup and Eventbrite where people can look up local events. There are a lot of online spaces for youth to connect with others and be leaders in their community such as Advocates for Youth, Dear Asian Youth, Q Chat, and even CPYD’s Youth Advisory Councils.
A third option is spending time outdoors. Nature preserves, centers, and parks have remained open as long as social distancing is followed. Some great ones to visit in the suburbs include Songbird Slough, Springbrook Nature Center, and Meacham Grove Nature Preserve. If transportation is an issue, going outside for even a short period of time can relieve the feeling of being cooped up.
Each community member can take steps in restrengthening and rebuilding connections by reaching out to others more during these troubling times. Reaching out to people can help show them they are not alone and can really help boost their moods. Whether people meet in-person while social distancing or over a video call, spend time outside, or meet new people at an online event, there are ways to stay social during this pandemic and ways to make sure everyone is safe and happy! The youth in our community have power in their voices, and they are strengthened in number. It is imperative that youth remain resilient in 2021 despite the challenges of the pandemic.
Looking for resources? Visit the CPYD Teen Resource Guide!
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