Helping your class of 2020 grad with the next chapter

2020 Grads and Grief in a Pandemic
How To Celebrate Your Grad When You Can’t Throw A Party
Posted at 11:23 AM, Aug 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-30 11:23:11-04

PITTSBURGH, Pa. (Ivanhoe Newswire) --- 2020 high school graduates were born just after 9/11 and are entering adulthood in the middle of a pandemic --- without a doubt, two life-shaping events for most Americans.

For high school seniors, there has been very little pomp this year because of the circumstances. COVID-19 meant graduation outdoors with restrictions. Spring activities didn’t happen. Neither did prom.

“Everyone had bought their dresses. People had dates,” said Olivia Kisiday, 2020 graduate.

“I think as a parent, you know the milestones she’s missing out on,” shared mom, Julie Manson.

“You want to close the book. You want to move on to the next chapter,” expressed Abbie Manson, 2020 graduate.

Mental health experts say U.S. teens were experiencing alarming levels of anxiety and depression before COVID. Now they say kids have increased feelings of loss.

“What they are experiencing is probably not that different than grief,” explained Elizabeth Koschmann, PhD, Research Scientist, University of Michigan.

Koschmann is the director of a youth mental health intervention program. The program works with kids ages eight through 18 by practicing coping strategies. It’s been successful in reducing anxiety and depression symptoms.

Koschmann says parents should watch for signs their teen is struggling with depression, like a change in personality. A teen may withdraw, or sleep excessively.

Parents should validate their child’s feelings of loss. Support them in ways they can be social with peers, for example, using tech. Help them develop coping skills, like outdoor exercise.

“Model self-reflection and say, when I feel overwhelmed, I go for a walk or when I feel really lethargic and unmotivated, I force myself to go for a run. What are you doing?” continued Koschmann.

Find ways to celebrate their success as grads move to the next chapter.