For high school seniors, there has been very little ‘pomp’ this year because of the circumstances.

COVID-19 meant graduations held outdoors with restrictions and spring activities, like prom, didn’t happen.

Mental health experts say US teens were experiencing alarming levels of anxiety and depression before COVID-19. Now, they say kids have increased feelings of loss.

“What they are experiencing is probably not that different from grief.” Elizabeth Koschmann, director of a youth intervention program said. Koschman’s program works with kids ages 8-18 by practicing coping strategies.

It’s been successful in reducing anxiety and depression symptoms. Koschmann says parents should watch for signs that their teen is struggling with depression, like a change in personality. A teen may withdraw or sleep excessively.

Parents should do the following:

  • Validate their child’s loss
  • Support them socially
  • Help them develop coping skills

Also, find ways to celebrate their success as grads move into the next chapter.

NOTE: An earlier version of this story contained an incorrect spelling for Elizabeth Koschmann. The error has been corrected.