Studies show young people struggle with mental health due to pandemic


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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Young adults report worsened mental health since the start of the pandemic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Studies show thoughts of suicide among teens are up 200% since quarantine began.

“It hits them even harder than us as adults,” LPC, NCC Gaan Akers, clinical education manager at Hillside, said. “There’s that increase in loneliness and isolation. But for kids, their developmental stage is to connect with peers so it has been especially difficult.”

Experts from Hillside, a counseling service for youth in Georgia, say it’s important now more than ever to prepare for what might be a tough pandemic winter.

Akers says it can be helpful for young people to work towards acceptance of the new ways they now learn and interact with peers.

“Life is as it is right now, and it doesn’t mean that it’s going to be like this forever,” Akers said. “And if I accept that this is the way things are right now, I don’t have to love it, but I don’t have to hate it, and I can come up with different solutions.”

Hillside recently expanded its services to Savannah and Macon to offer intensive in-home and virtual outpatient therapy.

“These are levels of care that weren’t available in Savannah before,” Akers said. “These kinds of in-between levels where there are more touch-points during the week, being able to call your therapist 24/7 for coaching and support hasn’t been available. So we were really excited to bring these services to Savannah.”

Hillside’s programs for ages 13 to 17 focus on building skills for mindfulness and coping mechanisms for dealing with stress.

“Extend a lot of grace during this time,” Akers said. “In our personal interactions with friends and family, it’s helpful to assume that everybody is doing the best that they can.”

Their six-week program consists of 12 hours of online group work each week from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

For more information about Hillside’s services in Savannah and the Lowcountry, CLICK HERE.

You can reach Hillside’s 24-hour hotline at (404) 875-4551. For immediate help, call the Georgia Crisis & Access Line (800) 715-4225.

Clients also receive weekly individual and family therapy, psychiatric consultation and medication management. Participants have access to 24/7 crisis calls and coaching. For more information on Hillside’s services, visit their website.

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