Teens in containment : between distress and relief
Associate professor, psychoeducation and psychology, UQO,
Professor, University of Montreal
University of Montreal
THE SCIENCE IN HIS WORDS / The containment leads to major upheavals in the lives of adolescents at a period in their development where they need to mingle with their friends and break free of their parents. In the context of containment and distancing of physics that we currently know of, their psychological well-being is a major concern.
Our research and our expertise as teachers in psycho-education have brought us to interest ourselves in this question.
From 8 to April 30, 2020, we have conducted a study with 1251 young people aged between 12 and 17 years of age, distributed in all regions of Quebec. Quantitative data (statistics) and qualitative (texts written by adolescents to describe their experience of containment) have been collected through an online questionnaire disseminated on the social networks, as well as through partners of the school environment.
Overall, and unsurprisingly, the results suggest that adolescents experience more distress (38% of boys and 51 % girls exhibit a significant level of depressive symptoms and/or anxiety) than normal (19 % of boys and 40 % girls).
However, there seems to be some heterogeneity in the way in which the adolescents live containment. Two main profiles stand out : for some youth, the confinement causes the distress, while for others, it is rather a source of relief.
Of the worrying symptoms
Approximately one-third of adolescents perceive themselves as being a little more stressed than usual since the beginning of the confinement, but feel much more sad than before and reported worrisome levels of depressive symptoms.
“I cry a day. I feel powerless in the face of the suffering of my friends. I think I live with a lot of frustration buried and a bunch of other emotions that I don’t even understand.” — Ariane*, 17 years old, Montreal.
Depressive symptoms predominant are the feelings of loneliness, worthlessness and a lack of confidence in the future. These symptoms, if they persist, could have long-term consequences on the psychological well-being of these young people.
These are young people who live a elevated distress also tend to use adaptive strategies say negative to cope with the situation of confinement. For example, they are more likely to blame themselves, to denial, to renounce, to find solutions to their problems or to consume alcohol and/or drugs.