How Teenager Sally Shapiro is Looking Out for Youth Mental Health During Quarantine
Covid-19 rocked our lives like we never expected. What was supposed to be a two week break from school turned into months, and families across the United States are now on unemployment and loan services. Among many new developments, the mental health of teenagers has become a pressing issue. Quarantine can be a number of things for teenagers: lonely, boring, unproductive, pointless, sad, depressing. And these things can often feel heightened for the young adult population.
Sally Shapiro (she/her) faced this issue head on. Eleventh grader Sally had noticed that when quarantine became long-term, the mental health of her friends began to shift. “I feel like everyone I know has been struggling.” She said. “I feel like teens don’t wanna say that because it seems kinda selfish right now.” So for a school project, she decided to launch her website “Quaranteen.”
The website navigates multiple fascets of the quarantine experience and struggle, and viewers can click on the “If you’re feeling…” section, the food and financial services section, or the “for parents” section to find what they’re seeking assistance for.
In her search to help her own mental health, she came across a bounty of resources for teenagers that she wanted to share. But she noticed there wasn’t a lot of data collected that measured teenager mental health in quarantine.
So Sally first sent out a Google Form to everyone she knew. The Google Form gauged a variety of things, including “What is one word would you use to describe your quarantine experience” and “Have you felt supported during quarantine?” The responses varied, but overall Sally noticed that “The responses were so thoughtful and really really personal.”
The homepage of Quaranteen is decorated with graphs and word bubbles, illustrating the results from the teenagers who took the survey. She noted how there wasn’t really an overall theme, and everyone has had different isolation experiences.
If you then venture to the “If You’re Feeling…” tab, you’ll find resources for every emotion you’re feeling. Loneliness, stress and even boredom. Sally noted that “You don’t need to be like really really struggling to use these resources, maybe if you’re just bored you can still use it!” In her search for things to fill the “bored” category up, she even found things to entertain herself like arts and crafts, group games, knitting, and zoo animal watching (her favorite are the polar bears).
There are even resources for parents to utilize to understand their teenagers better in this challenging time. “With this website I’m trying to find a way to support teens, and sometimes no one can do that better than parents. But also sometimes they don’t know how to do that, and coming from a teen, I want to tell them how.”
Sally hopes that everyone who visits her website will decide to work on themselves and their mental health, as well as reaching out for help when they need it. At the bottom of the home page, there is a “safe space” google form, where anyone can express themselves anonymously without fear of judgement. Sally, who is very empathetic in nature, checks it everyday. And although she can’t respond, she says “I’m there, I’m listening, and I know all those feelings.”
Sally’s website Quaranteen is open to the public, and available for anyone to visit. Sally hopes that everyone remembers to take time and care for themselves. “This website was really informational for myself, and helpful in my mental health process. Just do one thing for yourself.”
You can visit Sally’s website here: https://sites.google.com/larchmontcharter.org/quaranteen/home?authuser=0
And you can also read an excerpt from one of her articles featured on the website below!
“Teachers, parents, schools – try to ask yourselves what can you do to better support these teens? Or maybe what are you doing that is working? All the incredibly honest answers I have received show me one thing: Teenagers appreciate a place to talk about their emotions without feeling judged or afraid of how it might sound. A simple ‘How are you?’ might go a long way. Reaching out means a lot and you might get some answers you weren’t expecting. To the teenagers, take advantage of the resources put forth. If someone asks ‘How are you?’ don’t put up a fake smile and say ‘Good.’ It’s okay to open up and talk about how you really are. It’s the only way people will know how to help.”