As the pandemic enters its third year, teenagers across the country are continuing to struggle with mental health issues, a lingering impact of uncertainty and isolation brought on by COVID-19.
For 18-year-old Nathan Asher, it's been a bumpy few years. This college freshman has been suffering from anxiety and depression since the age of 10.
"I now have a lot of anxiety about the pandemic that manifests itself in slightly different ways," Asher said from their dorm room at Appalachian State University.
This music major often turns to singing or jazz guitar to help manage anxiety issues. Lately, though, it's been a struggle just to see a therapist.
"The backlog for appointments is two months. So, I do not have anxiety medication right now and that’s a real challenge," Asher said.
Last year, as Asher struggled with virtual classes, they made the difficult decision to graduate high school early. But this now college freshman, who has to play an instrument as a music major, quickly realized that came with a new set of challenges.
"There was a lot of pressure on us to remain in person and be as safe as possible, but the reality is that a lot of music majors have to practice wind instruments and it's just not safe," Asher noted, referring to how COVID-19 can spread through the air.
As we enter year three of COVID, teens everywhere are saying they are feeling isolated by the pandemic.
"You just take it one day at a time," Asher added.
But for all of the pressure this 18-year-old is managing right now, Asher finds joy in music. It's what is helping this teenager battle back anxiety in the most inharmonious of times.
This is part of a series of stories examining the question, "How are you doing?" where we check in with people from different walks of life to see how they’re handling the pandemic.