A national poll conducted by the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Michigan showed that 46% of parents say their teen has shown signs of a new or worsening mental health condition since the start of the pandemic. The poll also pointed out that disruptions to normal routines and other pandemic-related changes have had a significant impact on teens. The pandemic has left teens with stress, anxiety, and other mental challenges. More and more, teens have been coming to school in an increased agitated state. So how do we as parents and educators help? First we must recognize the signs of increased agitation.
Agitation is a general behavior state that includes being angry, upset, depressed, withdrawn, disturbed, frustrated, or anxious. Most of the time adults describe an agitated teen as being “on the edge.”
Behaviors that indicate a student is agitated can be:
- Darting eyes-looking here and there with little focus.
- Busy hands-increasing hand movements like pencil tapping, drumming fingers, or rubbing hands together.
- Moving in and out of groups-want to join in a group but can’t stay long before moving to another group.
- Off-task and On-task cycle-starting and stopping a task, unable to complete.
- Easily irritated by others-gets upset when others talk or even look at them.
- Staring into space -daydreaming, unfocused, and unhearing.
- Veiled eyes-avoiding eye contact by looking down or away or covering eyes with a hoodie or other clothes.
- Non-conversational language-single word responses, difficult to carry on a conversation
- Contained hands-hiding hands by sitting on them or folding arms
- Withdrawal from groups-engage only in isolated activities.
- Readily attributes blame-touchy and quick to blame people for unintended events. “You bumped into me on purpose.”
When adults notice and address the signs of agitation, it is more likely that we can help students to use calming techniques and prevent more serious behaviors from happening.
Information retrieved from:
Mott Poll Report
How the pandemic has impacted teen mental health
Access the following URL to learn more: