Adolescent Anxiety and Depression During Covid – How Occupational Therapy and Social Work Can Help

Guest Authored By Leah D, MA, BCBA, OTR/L, OTD and Heather F, MS, OTR/L

Anxiety and depression are on the rise within the pediatric and adolescent populations, even more so due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Symptoms of anxiety and depression can be manifested in various ways:

  • dysregulation
  • irritability
  • perfectionism
  • avoidance
  • restlessness
  • impulsivity
  • dizziness
  • nausea

They can also influence a child’s ability to successfully engage in school, participate in social interactions, and complete activities of daily living.  

Occupational therapy and social work services can help a child to learn to cope with the effects that come with these types of diagnoses. By utilizing a social-emotional curriculum, sensory-motor based interventions, and cognitive-behavioral interventions, your child will learn how to increase their ability to identify their emotions, use coping strategies, and increase their overall participation within their daily routines.  

Your child’s occupational therapist and social worker will work together, as well as with your family and other providers, to ensure that there is a collaborative and holistic approach to addressing your child’s specific needs.    

Social Work: Social Work services focus on understanding and identifying emotions and tackling barriers to a child’s emotional and social experiences. Social Workers work with adolescents and teens on understanding how their emotions impact their day-to-day functioning, and how they can use coping strategies to maintain a balanced state. Social Workers at Eyas Landing use a Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) approach to identify and reframe cognitive distortions, support teens and adolescents with recognizing rational and irrational thoughts, modeling and guiding emotional validation and regulation, practicing mindfulness, and grounding techniques, and creating and exploring coping strategies. Together, working on these skills gives adolescents and teens the tools they need to feel good in their day-to-day lives. 

Occupational Therapy: Occupational Therapists work to increase engagement and participation in everyday activities. For adolescents and teens, this includes school, peer and family relationships, extracurricular activities, chores, and leisure activities. When adolescents and teens are experiencing anxiety and depression, they tend to become less engaged in these meaningful activities, pulling away from interacting with others and participating less in activities they enjoy. Occupational Therapists can provide strategies and techniques for increasing engagement in meaningful activities. Participating in meaningful activities increases self-efficacy, self-esteem, and self-worth. By getting adolescents and teens to participate in meaningful activities, they will find more meaning in their lives. 

How do Occupational Therapy and Social Work work together? Though Social Work focuses on emotional cognition and Occupational Therapy focuses on the doing, Social Work and Occupational Therapy complement each other in that Social Work allows adolescents and teens to process their feelings and emotions and creates a space for developing coping skills around these different emotions. Occupational Therapy assists adolescents and teens to use these strategies in day-to-day meaningful activities. Social Work spends time processing the underlying cognition behind the thoughts and feelings, and Occupational Therapy spends time finding meaning in activities to promote positive mental health. By adding Occupational Therapy and Social Work into a treatment plan focused on anxiety and depression for adolescents and teens, all aspects of a child’s mental health are addressed so they can have healthy and positive mental health during this unpredictable pandemic. 

Eyas Landing is a therapy clinic with a mission to provide evidence-based and family-centered therapy services for children, adolescents, and their families. The primary goal is to deliver relationship-based interventions within the most natural environments and to empower families to reach their full potential. To achieve this goal, our highly educated, compassionate staff dedicates time and expertise to create experiences that maximize therapeutic outcomes. The strength, determination, and perseverance of our clients are evident as they succeed in therapy, and ultimately in their daily lives.

Eyas Landing offers a wide range of comprehensive services including Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, ABA Therapy, Social Work, Family Therapy, and Neuropsych testing. Services are provided throughout the Chicagoland area via Telehealth, In-Home, and in our state of the art clinic.

Want to learn more or you have a specific question? Feel free to connect with us here!