Stuck at home: Helping adolescents and their families cope during the COVID-19 crisis

May 13, 2020

On May 7, MaqC Eric Gitau — Director of the HCDExchange — appeared on Kenya’s popular TV show K24 Daily Brief to talk about the challenges that adolescents are facing during COVID-19 and how to support them.

Over the course of the show, MaqC and family therapist Roselyn Kigen discuss how current social constraints (stuck in house, out of school, away from friends, etc.) increase boredom and anxiety, which can become depression and sometimes lead suicidal thoughts and attempts. The two suggest ways that adults can help adolescents feel secure under circumstances that are making them more vulnerable than usual.

MaqC declares that that young people’s voices have never been more important. Parents and caregivers need to talk with and listen to them, answer their questions as best they can, acknowledge their fears, and partner with them to find ways to meet their many needs, including by encouraging connections with friends and responsible outside adults like counselors and mentors.

MaqC notes that this is not possible in adolescent-headed households, the number of which are increasing because of COVID-19-related illness and death, and calls upon the public to help these children. He and Roslyn offer their personal and professional contact information and give the numbers of confidential toll-free hotlines staffed by youth counselors and gender-based violence experts.

Watch the three-part interview, which includes an interview with a mother and her teenage son, and a viewer call-in question-and-answer session. Watch the three-part series below.