The pandemic year has been especially challenging for school-age young people. They were not able to see their friends or socialize outside of their homes for months on end. School still had its demands, but the lack of dependable internet in many areas and limited at-home resources or support added to the chaos. Many were coping with all of this while also seeing loved ones struggle with job losses, sickness, or tragic loss of life.
A CDC study found that as early as June 2020, Americans were experiencing high rates of adverse mental health conditions related to COVID-19. Younger adults, racial and ethnic minorities, and essential workers were especially prone to increased substance abuse and suicidal thoughts.
Nearly a year later, more vaccines and less sickness, plus easing social restrictions, are reasons for a more positive outlook. But the readjustment will remain gradual.
Alianza, working with the Desert Healthcare District and Foundation as part of the Coachella Valley Equity Collaborative, wanted to acknowledge the unique struggles of young people and give them a chance to speak out about their pandemic experiences. We convened focus groups with teens and young adults from the Coachella Valley and asked them what COVID messaging they thought would be most effective and useful to them and their peers.
The result was East Coachella Valley teens sharing their hardships, encouraging words, and self-care tips with posts and videos on social media.
If you didn’t catch the videos on Alianza’s Instagram feed, you can watch a compilation of all three now up on our YouTube page. The response to the videos has been extremely positive, and we need to thank all of the youths who took the time to help with this campaign and were willing to open up about what the pandemic has been like for them. Thanks especially go to Ashley, German, and Tanya for sitting down for video interviews.