The Return Concern: Teens Need Our Help Going into Unprecedented School Year

Teens worry about mental health and their futures amid concerns of racism and COVID-19.

Allstate Foundation
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NORTHBROOK, Ill., (July 28, 2020) – Whether it’s virtual or in-person, kids are uncertain, nervous and stressed about returning to school. And despite a global pandemic threatening their physical health, kids are coming face-to-face with the ‘Return Concern’ – making them more worried about their mental well-being than their physical health. That’s according to an Allstate Foundation survey of 1,000 teens (13-18 years old).  

“Teens are paying attention. They are speaking clearly about their needs, and we must answer their call.  Social and emotional learning needs to be a priority right now,” says Allstate Senior Vice President Stacy Sharpe. “As a long-time champion of youth empowerment, we know skills such as empathy, stress-management and resilience are critical to young peoples’ success in life. That’s why we partner with leading non-profits to give families access to important social and emotional learning resources to prepare our youth – and the adults who support them – for the future.” 

The Allstate Foundation survey also revealed potential drivers responsible for the challenges facing our youth: 

Mental well-being vs. physical health 

  • While nearly eight in ten teens (78%) say they are worried about COVID-19, they are more worried about their mental well-being (56%) than their physical health (49%). 
  • The majority (62%) says anxiety keeps them from being the person they want to be. 

Racial equity and making a difference 

  • The vast majority (68%) are very worried or somewhat worried about racism. 
  • Taking a stand on issues is very important or somewhat important (81%). 
  • While about half (53%) say they feel empowered to create the change they want to see in society, only one in every three (33%) trust the people in charge to make the right decisions. 

Current events 

  • Teenagers are paying attention to the world around them as the majority (70%) say it’s important to stay up with the latest news. 
  • Seventy-three percent say world events over the past six months have made them more worried about their future. 

The Allstate Foundation and its nonprofit partners, like Wings for Kids, are offering free social and emotional learning (SEL) resources online to help families and youth navigate these challenges and relieve the Return Concern. 

“This year has turned so many lives upside down, but SEL skills are key to empowering youth with skills to be resilient and face challenges,” says Wings for Kids CEO Bridget Durkan Laird. “It is critical to help these youth manage their stress if we want them to flourish and succeed.” 

The Allstate Foundation empowers young people – and those who guide and teach them – with skills and confidence to succeed in school, work and life. The latest SEL resources can be accessed at

NOTE: Allstate’s Stacy Sharpe and Wing’s Bridget Durkan Laird are both available for interviews on the survey results and the growing importance of social and emotional learning.  

Please email to schedule. 

*The Allstate Foundation survey was fielded by Morning Consult July 16-19, 2020 among a sample of 1,000 13-18-year-olds. The interviews were conducted online. Results from the full survey are unweighted and have a margin of error of +/- 2%.