(CBS) – A new national poll highlights the significant toll the pandemic is having on the mental health of teenagers.

Changes in social interactions have perhaps hit teens the hardest during this pandemic, according to the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital survey. 75% of parents report this past year has had a negative impact on their teens’ connections. 46% report signs of a new or worsening mental health condition.

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“Many teens have experienced disruption in their normal lives that is coming from closed schools, from canceled activities, from an inability to hang out with friends and family – just at an age where teens are biologically primed to want to have those experiences with their peers and to begin to separate from their family,” says C.S Mott Children’s Hospital pediatrician Dr. Gary Freed. Dr. Freed is co-director of the poll which also found parents of teen girls were more likely to say their child had new or worsening symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Researchers say parents can help teens cope. They recommend safe interactions such as spending time outside, social distancing, and mask-wearing. Dr. Freed says, “Many parents have also sought the help of either a primary care provider or mental health providers during this time. And the majority of parents who’ve sought that help have found it to be beneficial for their teen.”

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Half of the parents polled also loosened social media restrictions for their teens and say it helped. Dr. Freed recommends boundaries so that screen time doesn’t interfere with physical activity and sleep.

Good sleep hygiene is critical for teens, especially at a time like this. Experts recommend parents help kids create a good routine, whether they are doing virtual or in-person learning, with a regular sleep and wake time.

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