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Young girls report feeling stressed, depressed due to COVID-19 pandemic

Posted at 1:39 PM, Sep 09, 2020

CLEVELAND, Ohio - Students across the nation are still adapting to their new learning environment as more schools have opted to begin the year with remote learning.

But, a study from The Rox Institute revealed that girls in middle and high school are struggling significantly. Nearly 1,300 5th-12th grade girls, who attend 88 different schools, completed the survey.

The findings show the pandemic has induced stress, feelings of isolation, and depression.

Nearly 40% of girls said they had higher stress levels and 80% said they felt isolated more than they had before COVID-19.

Clinical psychologist, Dr. Carolyn Levers-Landis said the findings shouldn't come as a surprise.

"Many are just wondering, "when will this be over? How much longer do I have? Things keep changing," she said. "You just feel like the rug is getting yanked out from under you over and over again."

With girls spending less time with family and friends this summer, the survey said they're turning to social media even more. The results show one-third of respondents are spending six or more hours a day on social media.

But, the screen time isn't leaving a positive impact. As many spend the time comparing themselves to others.

"Girls are struggling even without COVID. In a normal world, they're struggling. And then you isolate them and I think it's really hard for them to navigate their new space," said Robyn Cutler.

Cutler is the executive director for Girls on the Run Northeast Ohio, an empowerment group for girls with a fitness component. The organization's website said over the course of the ten-week program, girls in 3rd-8th grades develop essential skills to help them navigate their worlds and establish a lifetime appreciation for health and fitness.

Cutler said it's okay for girls to be sad about missing their friends, but encouraged parents and caregivers to find ways to tap into their creativity.

"There isn't enough space in this isolation period for girls to feel like people are listening to them and interacting with them. Parents and caregivers can really do a great job by just making space for them to pay attention to their girl, have conversations with them, read with them," she said.

Both Cutler and Dr. Levers-Landis said parents of young girls should be on the lookout for changes in behaviors. Sleeping too much or too little, eating too much or too little, mood swings and less enthusiasm for things that interest them could all be signs of depression.

This story was first reported by Meg Shaw at WEWS in Cleveland, Ohio.