By Nikki Kontz, LMSW

 This is a stressful time for teens in Arizona and throughout the country. Dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, social isolation, online learning and fewer school activities can have an impact on your mental health.

Teen Lifeline staff and volunteers are asking all teens to pay extra attention to their own mental health during September – Teen Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

We’ve seen calls and texts to Teen Lifeline – the 24/7/365 crisis hotline for teens where the phones are answered by other teens – increase as high school students throughout Arizona adjusted to the initial impact of the pandemic and have adjusted to attending school online.

Big changes in normal routines can cause anxiety – especially when you might not have all the answers about when school will resume on campus and how safety-related changes may impact the routines you’re used to.

How can you cope with anxiety?

Our teen volunteers recommend the following five steps:

  1. Recognize Some Stress is Normal– The world has changed, quickly. Chances are you’ve had to sacrifice important moments in your life. It’s normal for you to feel anxious, sad or depressed about these changes. But if the feelings of sadness, anxiety or stress continue for long periods of time, feel unbearable or result in thoughts of suicide, it’s time to ask for help from a trusted adult or by calling Teen Lifeline.
  2. Watch for Stress Cues – People react to stress in different ways. Some may get stomach aches or headaches. Or may even become forgetful, short tempered, clumsy or emotional. Pay attention to the way you react when you are stressed. When you notice the signs you are feeling anxious, find healthy coping mechanisms – like going for a walk, calling a friend or taking a break – to help calm yourself down.
  3. Talk About It – Staying connected to friends is important for your mental and emotional development. Find opportunities to connect with friends, family members or adults you can trust through texting, video chats, social media or in person at a safe physical distance.
  4. Take Care of Yourself –Eating healthy, well-balanced meals, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep and taking a break when you need will help you feel less stress and make it easier to cope with the stress you do feel.
  5. Do Something Fun – Take time to participate in activities that are meaningful, relaxing or fun for you. This is an especially useful tool when you notice your stress cues begin to appear more frequently.

You’re Not Alone

If sadness, anxiousness, family problems or stress start to feel overwhelming, please call Teen Lifeline 24/7/365 at (602) 248-TEEN (8336) or (800) 248-TEEN. We can help.

You can also text the hotline at (602) 248-8336 between the hours of noon and 9 p.m. on weekdays and 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. on weekends.

The hotline is staffed by teen peer counselors from 3 p.m. until 9 p.m. daily. Trained counselors are available at all other times.

For more information about Teen Lifeline, visit


Nikki Kontz, LMSW is a Clinical Director at Teen Lifeline