NORTH BAY -- This week marks Mental Health Week.

As many families are trapped inside isolating from friends and extended relatives, Hands the Family Help Network in North Bay says the COVID-19 pandemic is causing a lot of mental health strain on youth and teenagers.


According to child and family therapists, this unprecedented time is causing a spike in a number of family stressors.


Things like having to be schooled at home, missing friends, not having a daily structure and the uncertainty of not knowing when this pandemic will end are just some of the issues.


"Week by week, day by day, navigating this whole pandemic and seeing all the changes, there's still hope within a lot of the older youth that there will be a norm for them soon," said Roxanne Lefebvre, a family service coordinator at the network.


The organization says the important thing for parents to do is to support youth struggling with the pandemic. They can do so by explaining what's going on and by coming up with creative ways to keep them occupied.


"It's really challenging for teens. It's a difficult time in their lives where they're supposed to go out and hang out with friends," said Hands' child and youth health manager, Kelly Smirle. "Given COVID-19, they have to stick around at home, and that's challenging for a lot of kids, teenagers especially."


New research shows over a quarter of households are facing increased tension and more than half of parents are seeing a wide variety of behavioural changes: ranging from outbursts to depression and anxiety.


"It's really important for parents and youth to be kind to themselves and recognize that this is a very difficult time and just to step back," said Smirle.


The mental health organization says there are tips available online for parents and youth, as well as a safe "chat space" for young people struggling during these times.