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We, teenagers at the time of the coronavirus’ war

by Shanjida Hossain

Editor & Mentor: Joe Muggs

Being teenagers and going through the most challenging stage of our lives is hard in itself—but now the impact of this new virus is resonating through our lives without any sense of when this will end. She tore from our hands a planned future, our everyday routine and the affection of our loved ones. Having studied hard since the age of five, getting to the very end of our educational journey to face this global pandemic wasn’t something we could ever have planned for, yet here we are, left with nothing but insecurities and confusion.

Mental health support from the Royals and Government

In the two months since Boris Johnson announced the lockdown, more and more young people have been suffering from stress and anxiety. Almost 6,000 people have contacted the Shout line: a helpline founded by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to support youngsters during their hard times. A Shout report shows there has been a 10% increase in the number of people with anxiety due to the lockdown. The Government has already taken steps to prioritise mental health, including a £5 million fund for organisations providing mental health support. Will that suffice?

The reassuring words of an expert

To better understand this subject, we interviewed Sir Patrick Vallance, the chief scientific advisor to the Government of the United Kingdom. Despite knowing the impact that these new measures are having on our daily routines, Sir Patrick is mortified about what is going on. But he implored us to stick with it till we are out of danger and continue to cooperate with the government. He said, “Thanks to the measures taken and your cooperation, we’ve got the cases under control and now the UK is in a better position compared to what we had to face at the beginning of this pandemic. But if we release these measures, it will come back.” We all agree that the measures are effective, but I wonder for how long we need to cooperate, and what it will cost us till the end. Will we be able to continue our lives from where we left?

We, teenagers at the time of the coronavirus’ war by Shanjida Hossain, Artwork by Annabel Carr

Our well-being

Sir Patrick also shows concern for our mental and physical wellbeing and added that “If everybody stopped exercising and eating healthily, the impact on the overall health of the population might be bigger than that of the virus itself.”

Although the government apparently have their hands tied, they strongly encourage us to:

  • Follow our normal daily routine as much as we can
  • Exercise at home wherever possible
  • Follow a healthy diet and lifestyle
  • Stay in contact digitally with friends and family: this will help to reduce isolation and loneliness.

You are not alone

He reassured us youngsters that “Nobody is alone in this.” He added that they are ready to talk about it because avoiding the subject and letting the fear overtake us won’t do any good. The Covid-19 pandemic will surely shake history but in this battle, we are fighting together. And to all readers Sir Patrick says that “We are in this together as the government of the people, supported by the people, it is here for the people.” For a young adult like me, things are changing so quickly. Some of us are insecure about whether or not we will be able to progress into the next academic year. Some have lost their job and are struggling financially. Some have lost family members and friends. During these hard times, I want to be involved in ensuring our voices are heard by the scientists and politicians.