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Teen Mental Health Post-Pandemic: Part 1 The Shifts

By: Shawne Poplar, MA LPC Licensed Professional Counselor


Before the pandemic, the majority of teen anxiety and depression symptoms seen in my office centered around peer-to-peer issues, academic pressures, or general identity-forming issues common in this time of self-expression and discovery.


Since the 2020 pandemic, filled with isolation, worry, and a jolt into a “new norm”, there has been a shift in teen mental health trends. Many teens now report greater struggles with social anxiety, difficulty regulating emotions, and an overall lack of life purpose or meaning.

These new trends are to be expected, as the pandemic isolated teens at a developmental time where connection to peers is essential. Many teens are finding it difficult to spend time in larger groups, meet new people, or even regularly attend school.

Other teens report difficulty managing their emotions, especially in in-person social discomfort or conflict. This can be partly attributed to teen online emotional expression or communication style not mirroring appropriate in-person interactions. Another concerning shift is a larger group of teens questioning the purpose of life in general and sharing concerns about the social uneasiness depicted around them. This has affected not only teen mental health but, overall academic motivation, college enrollment, and career objectives.

In Part II, I will discuss how parents can help!

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