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Ohio's Teens Are Struggling With Depression During The Pandemic

Julie Stucke, child psychologist at Dayton Children’s Hospital, says lifestyle changes from COVID-19 may bring existing mental illnesses to the surface.
Screenshot - Ohio Department of Education
Julie Stucke, child psychologist at Dayton Children’s Hospital, says lifestyle changes from COVID-19 may bring existing mental illnesses to the surface.

Even during normal times, many teens struggle with mental health issues. Eben Dowell, Senior Research Analyst at the Ohio Department of Education, says rates of suicidal thoughts and attempts are lower among Ohio high schoolers than the national average. But more students are struggling with symptoms of depression.

“Ohio has seen a significant rise in the percentage of high schoolers who report feeling sad or hopeless for an extended period, and that’s something now experienced by one third of all students,” he said during a recent public meeting.

Julie Stucke, child psychologist at Dayton Children’s Hospital, says lifestyle changes from COVID-19 may bring existing mental illnesses to the surface.

“I feel like a lot of my new referrals are probably kids that maybe had an underlying tendency towards depression or anxiety," she says. "And then the pandemic has exacerbated it."

Stucke suggests that teens find ways to socialize safely and stick to a daily routine to manage their stress.

“Especially for those kids who are just doing online school, making sure that they have the same wake time, getting on to their schooling around the same time, maybe eating lunch at a certain time, taking some breaks," she says. "Everybody feels better when they’re following a routine or a schedule.”

Stucke says if your teen is struggling with their mental health, your first resource should be your child’s primary care provider.