Mark my words, this generation of youth and young adults emerging into adulthood will be known as: CCD: COVID Collateral Damage. The current ‘COVID Isolation Education Game Plan’ of shutting down socialization opportunities/activities and keeping online learning rather than shifting to the inclusion of an on-the-ground classroom model at many College Universities down to as young as elementary aged children in response to COVID, is destroying our kids’ mental/emotional, socio-emotional, cognitive and physical health. This very important topic must not be ignored. This is NOT a sound game plan, this is a massacre.
COVID Isolation Education Game Plan: Everything we know about raising children how to be resilient, independent, free thinkers, self-confident, motivated, educated, healthy mind, healthy body – we are currently doing the opposite to develop. Our schools who are utilizing remote only education are failing our children from the College University level down through elementary school.
Isolation vs. Socialization: An important part of human development during childhood and the young adult/emerging adulthood time-period, cannot be ignored. As a professor at Grand Canyon University, I am an instructor/content expert in the Behavioral Health Science Department as well as the Psychology Department. It is clear the benefits of on-the-ground/in the classroom learning. Students reported early on in the semester the challenges of online learning versus the benefit once the shut down due to COVID was no longer, the shift to the in-classroom model. As a Psychotherapist in private practice, offering my clientele in-person counseling including meeting outside has been a wonderful option for my clientele. Through all my professional lenses, I boldly state: “we must face the truth about what the decisions of today are doing to our youth of today and the future of our youth and young adults of tomorrow.”
Remote Learning/Lack of Structure: In many College Universities down to the elementary school setting, this method is proving to be the biggest mistake we can make and are currently making for the youth of today and thus the adults of tomorrow. School matters, our educators matter, and how our children are being educated matters! A healthy balance of in-the-classroom/in-person learning, combined with activities that provide for socialization opportunities has a profound impact on the mental, emotional, psychological and behavioral development of our precious youth. Thus, this lack must be addressed and confronted as I am seeing the significance of this first hand from clients report and students report.
Outcome: Youth and young adults (college age) fall into 1 of 3 mental/emotional/socio-emotional, cognitive and physical health camp outcomes, in response to COVID shut downs/COVID Isolation Education Plan: 1) greatly diminished, 2) will get by, 3) resilient/will recover.
At Risk: The COVID ‘Education Plan’ weeds out those youth and young adults who lack in any one of the following, thus are most at risk: a) motivation, b) organizational skills, c) supportive/available parents, and d) financial backing. Additionally, studies show that males are even more at risk than females in falling behind in school with remote learning. Not surprisingly, youth with a pre-existing base of depression, anxiety, trauma background and/or mental/emotional and/or academic disability, unfortunately more likely are not headed in a direction of survive and thrive.
Mental Health Issues On the Rise: Trauma reaction, anxiety and depression is on the rise even for the pre-COVID mentally healthy youth and young adults. Isolation and lack of structure negatively effects the human mind in all aspects (mental, emotional, socio-emotional, cognitive, and physical).
Breakdown Of The Family Structure: The negative effects of youth and young adults staying at home for school has a profound and noticeable negative effect on many parents’ mental health, and the marital relational dynamic. This must not go unnoticed, as divorces are sky rocketing during our COVID world.
Action Steps: From my perspective through the lens of a Psychotherapist, Marriage and Family Therapist, Professor/Educator, and as a parent, steps we can take as parents, as educators, and as a country must be addressed.