Let’s be honest. With the ways of the world, and heightened stress, violence, and all that’s going on around us, as families, we need to give kids more resources that can be integrated into their everyday life - both inside and outside of school.
With so much uncertainty, the pandemic has clearly impacted the headspace of children and teens. Emotionally and socially, kids have felt a lack of support, not knowing where or who to turn to for help. Returning to school has created a tug of war for many families. The academic landscape has become more complicated, and it’s clear that children, teens, and young adults are confused - some are acting out on school campuses, while many have been hiding out in seclusion, feeling isolated and alone, or stuck in their rooms for countless hours depending on social media. I’m learning that many schools and colleges have actual wait lists in their student health centers, where students in need of emotional help are having to wait long hours, days or longer to see a mental health counselor (some two months or more).
Nearly two years into the pandemic, we need to be resourceful and find various means of support. For some, a “buddy check” can be one way of kids helping each other and reaching out. Young people learning how to cope is an essential life skill. Although some kids may not admit to feeling alone, stressed, or perhaps downright confused and unsure of how they feel, having a friend or buddy they can turn to in feeling heard and seen can make a big difference. A buddy check-in can be an alternative way of teens engaging and building actual human connections with trust – the antithesis of adolescents who turn to social media to vent on their private accounts.
While it’s true that many peer groups and social connections have drifted or been lost during this pandemic, helping tweens and teens feel a sense of connectedness can help lessen the feelings of anxiety and isolation. The reality of a buddy check-in is not necessarily the substitute or solution to serious mental health issues; however, it can be a way of building a support network – a positive coping choice in feeling valued over feeling powerless and helpless in desperate times.