The Pandemic’s Affects on Mental Health In Teens

The negative impact the mental health crisis has had on teens has been growing steadily over the past decade, and these effects have been compounded by the pandemic. For the millions of American children that are struggling with developmental, behavioral, or emotional disorders, they rely on treatment that the pandemic has made it nearly impossible to receive.

How the pandemic has had detrimental effects on teen mental health

When the pandemic started raging last March, emergency rooms saw a surge of kids related to various mental health conditions. This is partly due to forced school shutdowns, as many kids depend on the in-school services and therapies they receive daily.

These services are not translating well to virtual settings, as parents note their children are distracted by watching TV or playing games instead of focusing during online therapy sessions. But for many parents, online therapy is still the best option available to them because driving hundreds of miles to the nearest in-person doctor isn’t feasible.

Beyond not receiving the medical help these kids need, their mental health conditions are exacerbated by the isolation they are experiencing. Without school, these kids face a complete lack of social interaction, resulting in anger towards people within the household. Parents are turning to acute crisis centers during these outbursts, but these centers have had to break hard news to parents that they might not be able to find any follow-up care near them after the crisis.

The result of a lack of quality mental health care can have disastrous effects for children including mental deterioration and jail time. Because children don’t have access to the mental health care resources they are used to, frequent breakdowns and emotional episodes are occurring.

Parents are trying to help their children through these breakdowns in the best way they know how, but hospitals and emergency rooms are often turning away these children saying there’s nothing they can do to help. Many parents also have turned to crisis hotlines to get assistance de-escalating a situation but are met with long hold times instead of immediate help. When faced with minimal options for help, many of these kids cycle through policy custody.

To help children and families struggling with mental health issues during the pandemic and beyond, advocates say we need our government to invest more in creating a mental health system that’s accessible to all. If your child is struggling with a mental health condition, Trails Carolina can help.

Trails Carolina can help

Trails Carolina is a leading wilderness therapy program designed to give your child the confidence, coping mechanisms, and communication skills that will help them become the best version of themselves. We believe that by connecting with nature in a wilderness therapy setting, your child can learn to address their unhealthy behaviors, gain valuable insights, and learn important lessons.

Our multidisciplinary team of caring, expert staff is passionate about guiding your child along their unique path to psychological and emotional wellness. For more information about how Trails Carolina can help, please call 828-372-4725.

Avatar of Jeremy Whitworth

Jeremy Whitworth

As Executive Director at Trails Carolina, a leading wilderness therapy program for youth and teens, I oversee operations and collaborate with our leadership team. Since 2022, I've also hosted the Common Ground Podcast for parents: With a background in Wilderness Leadership and Experiential Education, I've managed adventure-based therapeutic programs across the US and Canada. My experiences in competitive athletics and adventure sports have honed my leadership, risk assessment, and decision-making skills, which I apply to running a successful business like Trails Carolina.

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Trails saved my daughter’s life. Amanda is an amazing human and a brilliant therapist. I am so grateful to her, Science Steve, and the other wonderful people who could reach my daughter at a time when I could not.

Margot Lowman August 2022

Great life changing experience for our son. After becoming addicted to gaming during covid he was very depressed. At Trails he experienced the wilderness, Science Steve, learning survival skills and top notch therapy and support etc… I highly recommend! This gave our son and our family a renewed family bond full of love and excitement about his bright future.

Winnifred Wilson July 2022


Outstanding clinical work and superb staff! There’s a great culture at this company and it shows with how they engage with families/clients.

Kristin Brace June 2022


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