Pandemic Report Part 1: Caregivers say teens are struggling to bounce back

The pandemic presented unique challenges for school age children.

Many were forced into online learning, isolated from friends and removed from their school support systems. While many children have now returned to the classroom and resumed a pre-pandemic lifestyle, problems persist for some students.

And for some students, new issues have emerged.

When new users log-on to the Torchlight platform for the first time, they are asked to complete a caregiver profile and note concerns they have for their dependents.  This profile helps the Torchlight platform customize support to each unique caregiver.

The Torchlight team analyzed this data over a three-year period to discover key trends among middle and high school aged children. These groups showed increased concerns during the past few years—even after the pandemic eased and life returned to a more normal state.

The top concerns for middle school students were:

  • Communication
  • Emotional Issues
  • Screen time and social media
  • Anxiety
  • Friendship and social issues

Similarly, the top concerns for high school students were:

  • Anxiety
  • Teen stress and self-harm
  • Attention
  • Emotional issues
  • Friendship and social issues

Let’s dig a little bit deeper into these stats.

For caregivers of high schoolers, anxiety concerns increased by nearly 50% from March 2019 to March 2022. Stress and concerns about self-harm increased by 13% for caregivers of middle school students and 34% for caregivers of high school students. Concerns about friendship and social skills increased by 15% for caregivers of middle school students and 21% for caregivers of high school students.

Several formal research studies support our data.

A 2021 CDC study found 37% of high school students reported poor mental health during the pandemic with 44% feeling persistently sad or hopeless. Another poll by the CS Mott Children’s Hospital in March 2021 observed nearly half of parents noticed a decline in their teen’s mental health since the start of the pandemic.

But what caused these issues to arise in the first place? And why were some students more affected than others? Most importantly, what can parents and caregivers do to support their teenagers and promote total wellbeing?

The following report will answer these questions with insights from childcare experts. It will help caregivers identify why their teens may still be struggling and provide practical strategies to help them bounce back.

Download Pandemic Report: Inside Teens’ Lingering Mental Health Struggles And How Parents Can Help here.