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Helping teens and young adults be resilient during COVID-19

Posted at 6:00 PM, Oct 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-02 17:50:16-04

COVID-19 precautions and the changes it's made in all of our lives has affected one group particularly hard - older teens and young adults.

"Many high schoolers and college aged students are struggling to stay the course and take those steps to stop the spread of COVID-19 at this time," said Dr. Amy Khan, Executive Medical Director for Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah.

Khan says we're all feeling pandemic fatigue, and many in our community are simply tired of the life changing measures we've all had to take in recent months.

"Our older teens and young adults are really in a dynamic time in their lives. They’re learning and they’re maybe getting some job training. They’re exploring their interests. They’re "adulting," said Khan. "Some are marrying. Some are starting their families. So the requested lifestyle changes and adoption of these public health practices are tough when you layer than on top of all those other things that they’re doing in their lives. It’s not surprising that these folks are challenged."

The new "Rona Alert" campaign from the Utah Department of Health is targeting young adults to help curb the recent spike in cases of the virus. The campaign's simple messages demonstrate how important it is that everyone, no matter their age, takes precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Campaign creators hope their simple slogan, "If you want to stay at school, avoid the Rona," will resonate with the younger crowd.

As cases climb in teens and younger adults, Dr. Khans says we are beginning to see a domino effect. "What we are seeing now is that these individuals are spreading this infection to their parents, grandparents, maybe teachers or others who have other underlying conditions that make them more vulnerable."

In recent weeks we've seen videos showing parties during the pandemic with young people gathering and not wearing masks, or practicing any kind of social distancing, something Dr. Khan says needs to stop if we're going to have any chance of curbing COVID-19 in our state.

Khan says the pandemic isn't all bad news for young adults, but rather it offers a unique opportunity for growth if they are willing to embrace it. "The pandemic really offers an opportunity for these individuals to develop two key skills, qualities...that will help them become successful. And those include grit and resilience. Grit is that ability to persist and toil towards your goal and resilience is that ability to bounce back and recover from difficult times. I think it’s incredibly important for this generation for people to embrace and seize this opportunity, because really they’re going to forge our success through the pandemic," says Khan.